Government agencies must regularly publish "fair and accurate" reports on the state of the environment under laws that have just been passed by Parliament.
The Environmental Reporting Act orders the Ministry of the Environment and Statistics NZ to publish a report every six months on one of five domains: air, freshwater, land, marine, atmosphere and climate.
They will start the cycle, beginning with freshwater, in the middle of next year.
Environment Minister Nick Smith says the reports will contain authoritative, independent information.
"It will tell us where we match up, where we don't, and give us regular updates so we can track long-term changes," he said.
"Open reporting is a powerful tool for improving performance."