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

Someone identified by the consent authority (usually the council) as likely to experience adverse effects of a proposal.


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


Person applying for a resource consent, change to existing consent conditions, or a private plan change

Assessment of environmental effects

A report that the applicant must give the council with their resource consent application. It outlines the effects that the proposed activity might have on the environment.

Board of inquiry

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

Building consent

Written approval from a building consent authority to carry out specific building work on a specific site. These are issued under the Building Act, and are separate to resource consents that might also be required under the RMA.

Certificate of compliance

Confirmation that your activity is permitted and does not need a resource consent.

Controlled activity

Activities outlined in the RMA, a plan or regulations as ‘controlled’ which require a resource consent. Resource consents for controlled activities must be granted except in certain circumstances.

Consent authority

Regional, district or city councils when they are carrying out resource consent functions.

Environment Court

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

Existing use certificate

This is useful when an existing activity doesn’t meet a current district or regional plan rule, but was lawfully established before the rule came into force.

Land information memorandum (LIM)

A report issued by a council, summarising the information they hold on a property.

National environmental standard (NES)

Regulations that prescribe technical and non-technical standards, methods or other requirements for land use and subdivision, use of the coastal marine area and beds of lakes and rivers, water take and use, discharges, or noise. Each regional, city or district council must enforce the same standard. In some circumstances where specified in the NES, councils can impose stricter or more lenient standards.

Permitted activity

Activity that is described in RMA regulations or plans as ‘permitted’ so is allowed to occur without the need for a resource consent.

Project information memorandum (PIM)

A report issued by the city or district council and contains information about land and the requirements that might be relevant to proposed building work, including whether it will need a resource consent or not.

Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA)

New Zealand’s main piece of environmental legislation. It provides a framework for managing the effects of activities on the environment.

Tangata whenua

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

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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