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Appearing at a hearing about a proposed plan or resource consent

This guide is number 3.3 of the 13-guide series called An Everyday Guide to the RMA.

Publication reference number: ME 1539

This guide is for submitters who are going to appear at a council hearing relating to the Resource Management Act (RMA).


The Resource Management Act 1991 (usually called the RMA) is the main piece of legislation that sets out how we should manage our environment. It’s based on the idea of the sustainable management of our resources, and it encourages us (as communities and as individuals) to plan for the future of our environment.

The RMA means that councils set rules and requirements to manage activities ranging from building houses, clearing vegetation, moving earth, or taking water from a stream. The purpose is to ensure activities won’t harm our neighbours or communities, or damage the air, water, soil and ecosystems that we and future generations need to survive.

The role of councils

Making decisions under the RMA is usually the responsibility of regional and district/city councils. They do this through regional policy statements, plans and resource consents.

About this guide

This guide is the tenth in a series of 13 guides called An Everyday Guide to the RMA (see more details about the series below).

Under the RMA, you can write a submission about a proposed council plan or resource consent. Your submission may influence the final decision.

Sometimes, a council may hold a hearing to help it make a decision.

This guide is for submitters who are going to appear at a council hearing.

It explains:

  • how to get involved in a council hearing
  • what you’ll do at a hearing, and who you’ll see
  • how to prepare and do well on the day
  • the rights and rules that affect you
  • your responsibilities.

The guide has a glossary of RMA terms at the end.

What this guide doesn’t cover

The principles for a hearing set out here are also relevant for hearings by boards of inquiry or the Environment Court. However, there are some important differences that you should understand before attending their hearings, such as cross-examination, and deciding who should speak in support of your submission at the hearing.

About the everyday guides

These guides are intended to help people work with their councils. If you’re dealing with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), a board of inquiry, or the Environment Court (see the glossary to learn more about these), you might need more technical advice from the EPA website or the Environment Court website.

For more information about specific parts of the RMA process, see the full list of guides on our website.

Everyday Guides Series

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