New Zealand: The future of the Resource Management Act – is the current Resource Legislation Amendment Bill the final amendment?

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (Amendment Bill) is currently progressing through Parliament.1 With the support of the Maori Party, it now looks more likely than ever that it will be given royal assent. Read our previous articles about the Amendment Bill for more information about what the reforms include.

While the Amendment Bill progresses through Parliament, the current Government is undertaking other pieces of significant work in relation to the New Zealand planning system which brings into question the fate of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). One of these work pieces is being undertaken by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in relation to urban development authorities; another work piece relates to the recently released report undertaken by the Productivity Commission on its inquiry into New Zealand's urban planning system.

This article provides an update in relation to both of these work pieces and questions what they might mean for the future of the RMA.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is currently undertaking public consultation and is engaging with relevant stakeholders in relation to proposals for new legislation to establish urban development authorities (UDA) and to enable local and central government to empower significant urban development projects to access more enabling development powers and land use rules.

What are UDAs? In summary, MBIE is proposing that UDAs will be publicly controlled development authorities that would plan and facilitate nationally or locally significant development projects (including planning and resource consenting projects, infrastructure and land acquisition projects), potentially in partnership with private companies and/or landowners. MBIE is proposing that the composition of the UDA will depend on the development project, but may take the form of a company

model (similar to Tamaki Regeneration Company) or a statutory entity (similar to Regenerate Christchurch).

The proposed changes would enable UDAs to access specifically tailored powers to acquire land and then plan and oversee the necessary development for the life of the project. Developments could include housing, commercial premises, associated infrastructure, and amenities including parks, community spaces or shopping centres. UDAs would also be responsible for funding the infrastructure of the project, and would have flexibility to raise the necessary funds, including an ability to levy charges on relevant landowners.

You can find MBIE's discussion document and Regulatory Impact Statement here. Written comments on the discussion documents can be submitted until 19 May 2017.

Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission has also recently released its final report entitled "Better Urban Planning" (Report). The Productivity Commission is an independent Crown entity that was tasked with undertaking an inquiry into alternative approaches to New Zealand's urban planning system, including a review of the RMA, the Local Government Act and Land Transport Management Act (as well as elements of the Building Act, Reserves Act and Conservation Act).

This inquiry involved a whole-sale review of the way urban planning is delivered in New Zealand to achieve social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes. The Report includes a number of recommendations for a future planning system including:

  1. Clear statutory objectives and principles for the built and natural environments;
  2. A revamped set of regulatory plans for each region – plans that are built on the platform of a spatial strategy and clear environmental limits;
  3. Timely, independent and systematic review of plans against the statutory objectives and principles; and
  4. New mechanisms and models to free up the supply of infrastructure serviced land for development – particularly in high-growth cities.

You can find the Productivity Commission's Report here. Now that the Productivity Commission's inquiry has been completed, it will be interesting to see how the Government responds to the Commission's recommendations.

What does this mean for the future of the RMA?

Both of these work pieces identify significant issues with the status quo and propose substantial changes to New Zealand's resource management regime. The Productivity Commission's Report states that the impact of its recommendations would exceed the likely collective impact of the constant stream of piecemeal amendments to the RMA that have occurred over the last 25 years (while also recognising that some of the current system's philosophical intent would remain).

This raises questions as to the future of the RMA and resource management legislation in general. The Prime Minister also seems to be contemplating the future of the RMA. Prime Minister Bill English has recently made comments that the RMA could be at the "end of its life" and that the Government has started the process of "completely rethinking" the RMA.

With a complete upheaval of the current resource management legislation clearly on the minds of the current Government, it is likely that this will become a significant talking piece in this election year. Whatever the result come September, all eyes of landowners, investors, developers, and environmentalists alike, will surely be on the RMA.


1 At the time of writing, the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill is in the Committee of whole House stage.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions