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Ministry of Health revised criteria for appointing drinking-water assessors


You may recall that the the Havelock North Inquiry recommended that the Ministry should take all necessary steps to boost drinking-water assessor numbers and resources, and that the prerequisite Health Protection Officer requirement to be a drinking-water assessor should be removed. 

The Health Act 1956

provides for the Director-General of Health to appoint one or more persons or agencies as drinking-water assessors on any terms and conditions that the Director-General considers appropriate (including, without limitation, terms enabling the Director-General to suspend or revoke the appointment in any specified circumstances). 

The Director-General of Health has determined that the following requirements will satisfy him that a person has the experience, technical competence and qualifications to undertake the functions of a drinking-water assessor:

  • at least two years relevant experience in a public health unit or a drinking-water supplier or equivalent;
  • a relevant technical qualification in drinking water;
  • at least six months training and mentoring by a drinking-water assessor (or equivalent); during which core behaviours and competencies have been demonstrated including an understanding of the public health risks caused by unsafe or inadequate drinking-water supplies;
  • satisfactorily completed the Ministry of Health’s drinking-water foundation training course.


The person must also be accredited to internationally accepted standards for inspection bodies and have in place effective arrangements to avoid or manage any conflicts of interest that may arise.

Appointments of drinking-water assessors will then be subject to the following conditions:

  • completing the NZOQ Lead Auditor training within two years of appointment (newly appointed drinking-water assessors);
  • attending a drinking water training course at least every three years (all drinking-water assessors).

Relevant technical qualifications: examples of relevant technical qualifications in drinking-water are:

  • Diploma in Drinking Water (Drinking-Water Assessment);
  • Diploma in Drinking Water (Water Treatment);
  • Papers 29995, 24906, 29966, 24897, 18456, 18459, 24907, 24912 from any Diploma in Drinking Water (or equivalent from overseas training organisations)
  • Degree in Public Health Engineering
  • Degree in Civil Engineering

Core behaviours and competencies: the Ministry will provide more guidance to prospective employers on the core behaviours and competencies for drinking-water assessors. For example, to be an effective assessor, a drinking-water assessor must be able to develop and maintain effective relationships appropriate between a regulator and the regulated industry including engaging with senior staff at local councils. 

Other DWA appointments: None of the prescribed criteria (current or proposed) prevent the appointment of any individual that the Director-General of Health considers capable of undertaking the role of a drinking-water assessor. This allows the Director-General to accept individuals who have worked in equivalent roles overseas irrespective of their qualifications. It also allows the Director-General to appoint individuals with a wider range of New Zealand qualifications if they possess equivalent work experience in related industries.

Please don't hesitate to contact Sally Gilbert if you have any queries.