This guide is number 1.2 in a 13-guide series called An Everyday Guide to the RMA.

Publication reference number: ME 1531

This guide explains how and when councils, and in some instances, the Environmental Protection Authority, carry out compliance, monitoring and enforcement under the Resource Management Act. 


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, to 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.

Council rules for using resources

The RMA sets up a framework for making rules about using resources.

These are in:

  • district and regional plans made by councils, and
  • national environmental standards set by central government.

Each council manages a slightly different environment, and our environmental issues and challenges vary between different regions and districts.

This means that councils can sometimes have quite different rules, and different strategies for enforcing those rules.

About this guide

This guide is the second in a series of 13 guides called An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act (see more details about the series below).

It explains how and when councils, and in some instances the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), carry out compliance, monitoring and enforcement (compliance, monitoring and enforcement).

As a member of the public, you may find the guide helpful for:

  • assurance that a council is effectively carrying out compliance, monitoring and enforcement and upholding its policies and plans, and ensuring the rules are clearly understood
  • understanding how a council is likely to monitor compliance, including how often, how much it will cost and who will pay
  • understanding how a council may address non-compliance, including the process for deciding on enforcement.

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

About the everyday guides

This guide is one in a series of 13 called An Everyday Guide to the RMA. The series is 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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