Environment Minister Nick Smith says it is taking longer than expected to make progress with plans to establish regular reports on the state of the nation's environment.
Dr Smith has released a discussion document on proposed legislation that would require the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to carry out the regular audits.
He says he had hoped to introduce the environmental reporting legislation to Parliament this year, but says the initiative needs widespread support to be credible.
Dr Smith says the Environment Commissioner would be required to report every five years on the state of the country's water, air, waste, and native plants and animals.
The commissioner, Jan Wright, says she is open to the idea of extending her role to include state of the environment reports.
Dr Wright says New Zealand is the only country in the OECD that doesn't require environmental reporting by law.
She says there are great advantages to it being done independently, and she would be happy to do it, though she says her office would need to be better resourced to carry out the reports.