The purpose of this glossary is to help you understand the meaning of terms used in this guide. Some of these terms have specific legislative definitions in section 2 of the RMA.

Affected person

Is someone identified by the consent authority (usually the council) as likely to experience adverse effects of a proposal which are at least minor.


Request for a decision to be changed, predominately to the Environment Court.


The person applying for a resource consent, change to existing consent conditions, or a private plan change.

Board of inquiry

A special board appointed by the Minister(s) to hear and decide proposals of national significance.


A person appointed by a council to carry out statutory decision-making duties on the council’s behalf, or to serve as an independent adviser to the council in the making of those statutory decisions.


Where submitters or applicants (including their lawyers) are allowed to question other parties in a hearing. This is not usually allowed in first-instance hearings under the RMA, but may be allowed in some hearings (for example, the freshwater planning process and Environment Court hearings).

Direct referral

A process where, at the request of the applicant, the council decides that the Environment Court will determine the application.

District plan

A plan prepared by city or district councils to help them carry out their functions under the RMA.

Environment Court

A specialist court where people can appeal decisions made by councils on a policy statement or plan, or on a resource consent application; or where they can apply for an enforcement order.

Freshwater planning process

A specific plan-making process that councils must use for proposed regional policy statements and regional plans (including plan changes) which relate to freshwater.

Further submission

An opportunity for certain people to comment on other people’s original submissions on a proposed plan or variation, by supporting or opposing these.


Gives people who have already written submissions the chance to speak to the decision-maker, about what a council or an applicant is proposing.

Independent commissioner

A person appointed to carry out duties who are not a member of the council (appointed from outside the elected members or staff of a council).

Limited notification

A council only notifies people who are affected by a resource consent application or plan change, and only those people can make a submission.

Making Good Decisions programme

A programme to accredit commissioners to conduct hearings and make decisions, on behalf of councils, administered by the Ministry for the Environment.

Mātauranga Māori

The body of knowledge originating from Māori ancestors, including the Māori world view and perspectives, Māori creativity and cultural practices.

Non-notified application

A resource consent application which a council decides does not require submissions (see publicly notified and limited notification).

Notice of requirement

A proposal for a designation, which may be notified or non-notified.

Plan change

The process that councils use to prepare changes to an operative plan.

Private plan change

When a person, group or organisation requests a change to any provision in a regional or district plan once the related provision has been operative (legally part of the plan).

Pre-hearing meeting

An informal meeting to sort out issues before a hearing.

Publicly notified

Means that any person can make a submission on the consent application before the closure date.

Regional council

Primarily manage resources like the air, water, soils and the coastal marine area.

Regional plan

Can be prepared by regional councils, to help them manage the resources they are responsible for.

Regional policy statement

Must be prepared by all regional councils. They help set the direction for managing all resources across the region.

Resource consent

Permission from the local council for an activity that might affect the environment, and that isn’t allowed ‘as of right’ under the district or regional plan.

Streamlined planning process

An alternative option to the standard planning process for a council to prepare an RMA plan or plan change. The proposed RMA plan or plan change must meet certain criteria, and must be directed by the Minister for the Environment (or the Minister of Conservation in the case of a regional costal plan).


Comments, opinions, concerns, support or opposition about a proposed development, a designation, or a proposed policy statement or plan.

Tangata whenua

In relation to a particular area, means the iwi, or hapū, that holds mana whenua over that area.

Tikanga Māori

Māori customary values and practices.

Working day

Any day except for a weekend day, Waitangi Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, the Sovereign’s birthday, and Labour Day, and those days between (and including) 20 December and 10 January. Note: If Waitangi Day or Anzac Day falls on a weekend day, the following Monday is excluded.

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