This guide is number 1.4 in a 13-guide series called An Everyday Guide to the RMA.

Publication reference number: ME 1533

This guide outlines the plans that councils develop under the Resource Management Act (RMA), what they do, and how you can get involved. 


The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) sets out the framework for regional and local councils to manage activities and effects on the environment. The overall purpose is to promote sustainable management of resources. This involves considering how our activities affect the environment now and in the future.

The RMA also enables councils to regulate land use and the provision of infrastructure, which are essential parts of New Zealand’s planning system.

The RMA means that regional and local councils set rules and requirements to manage activities ranging from building houses, clearing vegetation, moving earth, taking water from a stream, or burning rubbish. The purpose of the rules 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 RMA and councils

Under the RMA, local government (regional councils, district councils, and unitary authorities) are responsible for managing the environment on your behalf.

About this guide

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

It outlines the plans that councils develop under the RMA, what they do, and how you can get involved.

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 The 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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