Indicator 43: Water, sanitation, and electricity

Indicator 43: Proportion of older persons living in households with safe water, improved sanitation, and access to electricity by age, sex, and ethnicity
Indicator is fully reported?

For this indicator, we report separately on each topic. Data is not available by age.

  • Water – information is available about the safety of drinking water provided by a mains supply.
  • Sanitation – the existence of safe sanitation is assumed to be 100% for systems that are not on-site systems, such as septic tanks. Councils set requirements for systems under the Building Act 2004. National data on the quality of on-site systems is not routinely collected.
  • Electricity – no official information is available.
Type of indicator Outcome indicator Outcome indicator
Our findings

Drinking water safety

When household water comes from a mains supply, its safety is monitored by the water supplier, which is usually a local authority. If water comes from a water collection tank, it is up to the householder to keep their water safe.[1]

For 2010/11, 78% of people on registered community drinking water supplies serving more than 100 people received drinking water that met all of the requirements of the drinking water standards. (Compliance with bacteriological standards was 97% for the same period. The difficulty in protecting against protozoa, which can require expensive capital works, lowered the overall result.) Compliance had increased 2% compared to the previous year.[2] As in previous years, compliance was highest in the large supplies and lowest in the small supplies.

Access to safe sanitation

Owners of buildings and dwellings are required by legislation to provide safe, sanitary facilities. This is controlled by local authorities under the Building Act 2004. There are no national reports on the provision of safe sanitation – inspections usually occur when facilities are installed.

Householders could come into contact with effluent in their backyard if an on-site system is not functioning correctly. National data on non-performing on-site systems is not routinely collated. However, some regional data (from surveys and inspections) was brought together in a 2008 discussion document published by the Ministry for the Environment. Rates of major and minor problems or failure varied considerably.[3],[4]

Access to electricity

We have not found any information about access to electricity by household.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment told us that rural electrification programmes finished in New Zealand several years ago.[5]

At any given time, a small proportion of households might be disconnected because power bills have not been paid.

How entities use the data

Where information is available, it is used to improve performance. For example, the Ministry of Health has a drinking water assistance programme to help rural communities show that their drinking water is safe.[6]

Entity responsible for this indicator Water – Ministry of Health, local authorities, and householders/schools

Sanitation – Ministry of Health and local authorities

Electricity – Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

[1] Councils can set requirements under the Building Act 2004.

In October 2007, the Health Act 1956 was amended. The amended Act aims to protect public health by improving the quality of drinking water provided to communities. The change to the legislation resulted from a concern that the organisation of New Zealand’s drinking-water supplies was not adequate to safeguard communities. New Zealand had been unusual among developed nations in relying almost entirely on voluntary mechanisms to safeguard the treatment and distribution of drinking water. More information about drinking water legislation and management is available from

[2] Ministry of Health (2012), Annual Report on Drinking-water Quality 2010-11, page 1,

[3] Further information is available at

[4] Section 125 of the Local Government Act 2002 requires local authorities to carry out water and sanitary services assessment for their districts from time to time. This includes on-site systems.

[5] For historical information, see


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