This guide is number 3.1 of a 13-guide series called An Everyday Guide to the RMA.

Publication reference number: ME 1537

This guide is aimed at people identified as being adversely affected by a proposed activity, described in the Resource Management Act (RMA) as ‘affected persons’.  


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, or 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.

About this guide

This guide is the eighth in a series of 13 guides called An Everyday Guide to the RMA (see more details about the series below).

It is aimed at people identified as being adversely affected by a proposed activity, described in the RMA as ‘affected persons’. They may be affected by local council resource consents or a deemed boundary permitted activity.

The guide explains:

  • who an affected person is, and what being an affected person means
  • what ‘giving written approval’ means
  • what to do when you’re asked for written approval
  • what happens if you do give written approval
  • what happens if you don’t give written approval.

It also explains some technical terms that you might hear throughout the resource consent process, like ‘conditional approval’ and ‘side agreements’.

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

About the everyday guides

These guides are 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.

More information

If you become involved in an application as an affected person, you should also look at the Applying for a resource consent guide.

This contains detailed information about resource consents, making an application, notifications, and other key steps in the process.

Everyday Guides Series

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