Make Way for the 'New' RMA..

Topics covered in this article: RMA, RMA & Local Government

Rachael Zame

Senior Associate

Senior Associate

Phone: +64 7 927 0522


Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Science, University of Otago 


The Government is pushing ahead with reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA), following the comprehensive review carried out by the Review Panel last year. 

The Minister has indicated that RMA reform will proceed on the basis of the Review Panel’s recommendations, although he indicates that further work and refinement is required in some areas. 

Our previous summary of the Reform Report can be found here:

Minister Parker confirmed today that the RMA will be repealed and replaced with three new Acts, as recommended by the Review Panel:

- Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA);
- Strategic Planning Act (SPA); and
- Climate Change Adaptation Act. 

Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA)

The NBA, as the core piece of legislation replacing the RMA, will be progressed first.  It will provide for land use and environmental regulation and will provide a mandatory set of national policies and standards to support natural environmental biophysical limits, outcomes and targets specified in the new law.  It will also require combined plans for each region and streamline the process for developing and changing plans. 
It will recognise the concept of Te Mana o te Taiao (the mana of the environment), require decision makers to ‘give effect to’ the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and establish a stronger strategic role for Māori in the system.  The Review Panel recommended the creation of a National Māori Advisory Board to provide advice to government and oversight of the RM system from a tangata whenua perspective.  The Minister’s Cabinet Paper notes that a Collective of several national Māori entities  has been formed with the purpose of engaging with the Crown on Māori rights and interests in freshwater and RM reform, and that the Minister proposes to work with the Collective on policy development for the NBA.  This work with the Collective will not impede any iwi or Māori entity from submitting to the Select Committee. 

Given the significance of the reform, the Minister proposes that a special process be followed with the Government developing an ‘exposure draft’ that will be subject to a Select Committee inquiry ahead of being formally introduced to the House.  The exposure draft will contain the main structure and likely headings of the full NBA, with certain aspects fully drafted. 

The exposure draft and supporting consultation material is likely to be released in May 2021, before being referred to a Select Committee for inquiry on the exposure draft.  The intention is that the NBA will be introduced to the House at the end of 2021, and be passed by late 2022

Strategic Planning Act (SPA) and Climate Change Adaptation Act (CAA)

The SPA and CAA will be developed (and progress) in parallel, but are unlikely to follow the same process as the NBA (i.e. exposure drafts will not be released). 

The SPA will embed a strategic and long-term approach to planning for land use and the coastal marine area (CMA), including identification of areas suitable for development, areas to protect or enhance, social and network infrastructure needs, and vulnerability to climate change and natural hazards.  New regional spatial strategies will be required to set long-term objectives for urban growth and land use change for regions responding to climate change and identifying areas inappropriate to develop. These strategies would align functions across other legislation.

The CAA will address the legal and technical issues associated with managed retreat, where it is required for climate change adaptation or reducing risks from associated natural hazards. 

Want to know more?

Further information, including a copy of the Cabinet paper can be found here:

If your business or interests are affected by the proposal for RMA reform, it will be critical that you remain abreast of the changes and be involved in the consultation processes.

If you need guidance in navigating the brave new world of resource management, our RMA team is here to help.



[1] Comprising the National Iwi Charis Forum (through its Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group), New Zealand Māori Council, Te Wai Māori Trust, Kahui Wai Māori, and the Federation of Māori Authorities.  



Latest Update: 10 February 2021


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