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.

Abatement notice

A request for compliance with the RMA within a specified time. Only councils and the EPA can issue these notices, which are used to get someone to stop or to start doing something.


Where people are properly following RMA rules and resource consent conditions.


A statement by the Environment Court clarifying legal matters. It might be issued before an abatement notice or enforcement order, to help a council draft these orders.

District plan

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

Emergency works

Works that councils and some other authorities can do (or require someone else to) to prevent, remove the cause of, or fix any adverse effect arising from an activity – including adverse effects that are likely to happen.


Actions councils take when people are not complying with the RMA, a resource consent or a rule in a district or regional plan, or other regulation.

Enforcement officer

Usually appointed by local authorities and supplied with a warrant stating the functions and powers they are authorised to carry out.

Enforcement order

A way of getting someone to comply with the RMA. It differs from an abatement notice in that anybody (not just the council or the EPA) can apply for an enforcement order against somebody else. These are issued by the Environment Court rather than the council.

Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)

Receives and processes applications for proposals of national significance under the RMA, and can have a role in RMA compliance and enforcement.

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 or seek a declaration.

Excessive noise direction

Issued by a council to get people to reduce excessive noise to a reasonable level.

Infringement notice

A written notice accompanied by a fee, which informs a person that an offence has been committed under the RMA.


When councils check if a situation complies with the rules or resource consent conditions.

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 allowed to occur without the need for a resource consent.

Regional plan

Prepared by regional councils to help them manage the resources they are responsible for.

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.

Warrant of appointment

A warrant issued to enforcement officers empowering them to use the powers of entry, sampling, search and enforcement action set out in the Act.

Water shortage direction

A regional council direction setting out additional water restrictions that are tighter than usual (for example, during a drought).

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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