Here we answer your questions about MBIE's proposal to change the way engineers are regulated.

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Engineering New Zealand involvement

Has Engineering New Zealand helped MBIE develop this proposal?

We’ve been working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which has proposed a new way of regulating engineers. While we support much of the proposal, we are concerned about the addition of a new, general certification.

How has Engineering New Zealand consulted with members so far?

In our feedback to MBIE over the past few years, we have represented the views of our members, which we’ve sought through regular engagement, meetings and open forum. This includes substantial consultation with members around the introduction of our new membership pathway in 2017, and recent Board roadshows.

How will Engineering New Zealand respond to this proposal?

We are seeking detailed feedback from all members on MBIE’s proposal, to help shape our submission.

Does the proposal mean MBIE would be looking to absorb Engineering New Zealand or its work?

We understand that MBIE’s intention is to establish an independent Governance Board with support and administration from Engineering New Zealand. This would ensure appropriate levels of independence, appropriate professional input, and significantly streamline the transition and minimise implementation costs.

Is Engineering New Zealand trying to protect its business by opposing certification?

On the contrary, an extra layer of regulation in the shape of certification would probably create more work for us. Our concerns around certification are based on feedback from members and what makes most sense for the profession and the public.

Does the proposal mean all engineers are ultimately accountable to the Minister?

According to the proposal, the engineers in this regulatory system would be independently governed and accountable to the Minister. 

Our Membership Pathway and members’ obligations under our Rules would not change.

Impact on CPEng

Would engineers currently holding CPEng automatically be transitioned into the new system?

This is unclear, although the proposal positions certification as fulfilling functions served by CPEng. 

Some of those with CPEng may also want to become licensed in certain areas. We are working to integrate assessment against Bodies of Knowledge and Skills into the current CPEng assessment process for structural, geotechnical and fire engineers. We think this has the potential to streamline the transition to equivalent licensing classes.

What is the difference between CPEng and CMEngNZ at the moment?

CPEng is a registration under the Chartered Professional Engineers Act 2002. It’s a voluntary quality mark that indicates general competence rather than proven ability to perform specific tasks.

Chartered Member is an assessed membership class of Engineering New Zealand that also indicates general competence at the same level as CPEng. It is also open to engineering technologists, engineering technicians and engineering geologists. 

Like other membership classes, Chartered Membership also shows you are committed to ongoing professional development and the Code of Ethical Conduct, as part of your membership of a professional body.

At the moment, if you complete the assessment for CPEng, you are eligible to become a Chartered Member. It’s also possible to become a Chartered Member by completing a stand-alone assessment, if you don’t want to be CPEng.

How is licensing different from CPEng?

At the moment there is no mandatory professional regulation of engineers carrying out safety-critical work in New Zealand. CPEng is a voluntary quality mark; it’s about general competence rather than proven ability to perform specific tasks. CPEng doesn’t stop engineers operating outside their areas of competence. Nor does it provide assurance that an engineer can do specific, safety-critical tasks.

Licensing would change this by restricting who can perform certain safety-critical tasks. This means that for these tasks, only engineers who have been assessed as competent in that area can perform this work. This is intended to stop engineers performing tasks they are not competent to perform. 

Should an engineer who has started the CPEng assessment process continue it? Should engineers renew their current CPEng?

If you are currently working towards CPEng or about to reassessed, keep going. Any transition to a new regime will take time, potentially years.

What does this mean for engineers currently doing work that requires them to be an LBP, if CPEng no longer exists?

The proposal doesn’t have this level of detail. A new pathway for engineers to become LBPs may be needed if CPEng is repealed. 

Chartered Engineer

Would Chartered Engineer allow international recognition?

Chartered Engineer would be equivalent to the current Chartered Member membership class, which is internationally benchmarked. At the moment, if you are a Chartered Member, you are eligible for the relevant international register. This wouldn’t change. Our current mutual recognition agreement with the United Kingdom and Australia recognises Chartered Member as equivalent to CEng(UK) and CPEng(Aus).  This wouldn’t change either.

Would a Chartered Engineer need regular reassessment?

Chartered Engineer would be equivalent to our Chartered Member class at the moment. CPEng and Chartered Member require the same level of competence assessment. Once they have completed their initial assessment, Chartered Members are not reassessed. Instead they commit to carrying out 40 hours of professional development every year and to following our Code of Ethical Conduct.

Would it be possible to protect the terms “engineer” or “Chartered Engineer”?

The proposal does not include anything about protecting the title “engineer”.

When people claim to hold membership of Engineering New Zealand when they don’t (for example, claiming they are a Chartered Member, or Chartered Engineer in the future) then there is action we can take.

If the government decides that the title Chartered Engineer should be protected in legislation or in another way, then this would open up a wider range of possibilities to take action.

Would the assessment process change from the current 12 competencies?

The competence standard for Chartered Membership is benchmarked through international agreements and aligns closely with the competence requirements in jurisdictions like Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland and the United Kingdom.  While we would be unlikely to make significant changes to the competence standard itself, we would have a little more flexibility to consider changes to the assessment process to further improve reliability and consistency.


Can you be licensed only?

MBIE’s discussion document positions licensing as needing a general competence prerequisite.

How would licensing work in practice? What is the process of applying to be on the new register?

This isn’t clear in the proposal. Ideally Engineering New Zealand would administer this in conjunction with our technical groups, using Bodies of Knowledge and Skills (BOKS) as the basis, in a process that is closely aligned with our Chartered assessment process.

Would licensing require reassessment?

This isn’t clear in the proposal document. More work needs to be done to define the scope of licences, if this proposal moves forward.

How does it align with existing licensing regimes, for example, road transport and civil aviation?

This isn’t currently clear. More work needs to be done to define the scope of licences, if this proposal moves forward. It’s important that the licensing system can extend into other areas of safety-critical engineering work and is consistent.

Currently the CPEng Register is called up under other regulations including the certification of amusement devices, heavy vehicles and the design verification of cranes, pressure equipment and passenger ropeways. In our view, these represent areas of safety-critical engineering work and should be covered by a licensing scheme, rather than general certification.   

How would licensing weed out bad practice?

If someone didn’t have a licence, then they couldn’t carry out the specified work. Obtaining a licence would require an engineer to demonstrate particular competence to undertake a specific type of work. It would also be complemented with strong accountability mechanisms and other checks and balances to ensure effective monitoring of licensed engineers’ competence. 

Will licensing do away with Council registers?

This is an issue that needs to be owned by the profession and industry, and we are already working closely with the Metro Council Group to develop a workable way forward that works for everyone.

International impact

How would you deal with people from overseas under the proposal?

People who are on the relevant international register or who are Chartered overseas in countries like the UK or Australia can apply for the relevant membership class without any further assessment. This would not change.

To be licensed, we would expect people moving to New Zealand from overseas would need to go through the same process to acquire this licence as people in New Zealand.

How does the proposal recognise IntPE?

International Professional Engineer (IntPE) is an international register that Engineering New Zealand maintains as part of our role with the International Engineering Alliance. Registration is available to engineers who are Chartered Members of Engineering New Zealand and meet the required standard. MBIE’s proposal would not affect this.

How does MBIE’s proposal compare to overseas jurisdictions?

Read more about how other countries regulate engineers


What is the relationship between these schemes and the Health and Safety at Work Act?

At the moment, this is not clear in the proposal. 

What will this mean for Building Consent Authorities and the consenting process?

An effective regulatory system relies on checks and balances across the system, and in building and construction this includes through consenting processes. It’s unclear how the proposal will resolve the issues in this space, but we are starting to explore options with councils outside of regulation.

Will it cost me more?

Potentially, if another regulatory layer is added to the mix. 

How does MBIE’s proposal compare to how other professions are regulated in New Zealand?

Read more about how other professions are regulated in New Zealand