The Government is setting up a register to prioritise the clean-up of land that has been contaminated by industrial chemicals.
Local and regional councils usually work out which sites need decontaminating and landowners pay for the work to be done, but for historical cases where the owners cannot be pursued, regional councils apply for government help.
The Government has listed 10 areas as clean-up priorities, including two mines on the West Coast, a Christchurch school and old gasworks in Wellington and Masterton.
In order to qualify for funding, the applicants, which are usually regional councils, will have to pay a minimum of half of the clean-up cost.
Environment Minister Amy Adams said on Wednesday the new system will make sure money goes where it is most needed and told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Wednesday that the Government doesn't want to scare people.
"Many of the sites they identified as potentially contaminated won't actually be. But certainly where the odd site is found where there are significant historical contaminations, we want to know that when the Government considers those for funding we can do it in a way that makes a lot of sense and we're not get into arguments about this site's more important than that one."