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New Zealand standards are developed by a national standards body (Standards New Zealand) or another accredited body.

Any standards developed under the Standards New Zealand name have been created in New Zealand or, in the case of the adoption of international or other standards, approved as suitable for use in New Zealand.

Standards development occurs over six phases:

  1. A project is commissioned
  2. A committee is formed
  3. The committee drafts the standard
  4. The draft standard undergoes a period of public consultation
  5. Once consensus on the final form of the standard is reached, the committee formally ballots to approve it
  6. The standard is professionally published.

When developing new standards or revising existing standards, Standards New Zealand first looks to identically adopt an international standard, such as one published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), of which Standards New Zealand is a member.

This is to avoid the potential duplication of work, to comply withe the the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015, and to better align international best practice. We might also look to adopt a standard from another international body, such as a European standard, a US standard, or other like-minded standards bodies, such as Standards Australia.

Alternatively, a standard may be adopted with modifications to fit better the New Zealand context. If this is not applicable, a New Zealand-specific standard may be developed. 

During the initial pre-project phase, Standards New Zealand asks the commissioner of a standard to provide information using a project commissioning brief. This helps create a business case for the development project. 

This document outlines various aspects of the proposed standards development project, including:

  • The project scope
  • If there are any related international standards
  • Why a related international standard would not be appropriate for adoption
  • The benefits
  • Stakeholders to be consulted
  • Funding
  • Identified risks or issues
  • Other relevant information required to initiate the development of a new proposed standard. 

Once a project is initiated, Standards New Zealand follows an internationally-recognised standards development process. 

First, a balanced committee is formed, where a range of stakeholders are approached to nominate a committee member. This includes consumers, regulators, industry and professional associations, research and academic organisations, minority groups (such as those relating to interests of tangata whenua), and employer representative bodies. 

After initial committee meetings, a draft is agreed upon by the committee. The draft then goes out for public consultation for an eight week period. Any feedback received during the public consultation phase is reviewed by the committee and, if appropriate, the committee will make changes to the draft. 

Standards are written as voluntary guidelines. However, any standard, or part of a standard, may be incorporated by reference in legislation. If this happens, the standard, or the referenced clauses, become mandatory. 

Reasons for developing a standard

Standards offer consistency to a sector or industry. They spell out good practice in requirements and recommendations with which an individual or body can demonstrate compliance.

Standards are particularly suited for specifying health and safety practices and other systems, behaviours, and processes across an organisation. Standards create a common framework that encourages the sharing of knowledge. This reduces the need for duplication of work and aids a sector as a whole.

Standards also contribute to productivity by:

  • Increasing efficiency and transparency by specifying processes
  • Reducing cost by avoiding duplication and minimising waste
  • Replacing bespoke options with standardised solutions
  • Providing clarity on regulatory compliance.

Initiating the development of a standard

Anyone within New Zealand can initiate a standard if they have the necessary funding, with a wide range of private and public organisations initiating and helping fund the development of standards. In many cases, these are industry bodies or government departments.

Contact us if you would like to discuss standards development further, or if you need help completing the commissioning brief at enquiries@standards.govt.nz

How standards are made

Commissioning a standard

Standards are developed in response to a need from an industry or market, usually via a request from an industry or other stakeholder. Where possible, international standards are adopted. A commissioning brief outlines the rationale for the creation of a New Zealand standard, describes the financial, environmental, and social impact, and provides an overview of the key stakeholders impacted by a New Zealand standard.

Pathways to commissioning a standard

There are three categories of standards. See below for information on standards development pathways.

  • International standards
  • Joint Australian/New Zealand standards
  • New Zealand standards

We can help you decide if a standard is the best option for your organisation. We will discuss various solutions and options. If a New Zealand standard is the best option, an estimate of time and cost will be provided once we know your needs. A project commissioning brief must be completed to help us calculate this accurately. This is then developed into a project proposal. 

Please note that Standards New Zealand is not funded for standards development. We operate on a cost recovery basis for the development or revision of standards. A funder or commissioner, however, does not receive preferential treatment or consideration in relation to the technical content and outcome of the standards development process.

Once a proposal is approved, a balanced committee is established. The New Zealand Standards Approval Board must approve all committee members and appoint the committee chairperson. The scope of the project, terms of reference, drafting tasks, time frames and monitoring progress are agreed at the initial committee meeting.

Drafting a standard

Standards New Zealand requires the technical expertise of working group/ development committee members to write the technical content of a standard. These members are experts or consumers nominated by their representative organisations. The committee must be well balanced and represent all parties interested in the standards topic. 

Code of conduct

All committee members must agree to abide by a Code of Conduct.

Read this in the Standards Development Committee Handbook [PDF, 558 KB]

The content of standards is reviewed and edited by the Standards New Zealand publishing team.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference are agreed to at the first committee meeting. It outlines the scope of the project, roles and responsibilities, and expectations of the committee members and the chair.

Public consultation

Once the content for a standard is written, the Standards New Zealand publishing team prepares the content for public consultation. We contact organisations that have an interest in the standard to encourage feedback on the draft, which is made publicly available on the Standards New Zealand website. Anybody may comment on it.

This public comment phase usually lasts at least eight weeks and it gives the wider community an opportunity to review the content of the document before it is published. All comments submitted in the public comment phase are reviewed and considered by the committee and may result in changes to the standard.

Ballot

Following public comment and any edits to the draft content, a ballot is held by the standards development committee members. This is to ensure there is consensus within the committee before the final draft is published.

Committee members may vote positively or negatively and with or without comment on the final draft. The standard is only proposed for approval by the Standards Approval Board for publication when consensus is reached within the committee. 

Publication

The standard is only published after approval is given by the Standards Approval Board. 

Development committee membership

The content of a standard is developed by an independent expert committee, made up of volunteers nominated by public and private organisations that have an interest in the subject covered by the standard. The Standards Approval Board must approve the committee members and chair, ensuring the committee is well balanced.

Benefits of being involved in a standards development committee

By being involved in the development of a standards solution, committee members are able to directly contribute to and shape the direction of their sector. The process can also support a committee member’s professional development by:

  • Enhancing their professional experience
  • Building networks and learning from other experts in their field
  • Contributing to, and learning from, the latest international knowledge and practice
  • Helping create trade opportunities
  • Representing and protecting the public interest
  • Some professional organisations award continual professional development points for standards development involvement that count towards a professional certification.

Participate in a standards development committee

International participation

Joint Australian/ New Zealand participation

New Zealand participation

Last updated: 26 January 2021