This guide is number 2.3 of the 13-guide series called An Everyday Guide to the RMA.

Publication reference number: ME 1536

This guide provides information for anyone who is involved in the requiring authority approval, notice of requirement or designation process under the Resource Management Act (RMA).


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.

Designations are one of the most powerful tools under the Resource RMA, and can really affect how things happen around you. Once in place, a designation allows a project to go ahead, if it complies with any other rules in a district or regional plan.

About this guide

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

It aims to help people understand processes and terms used when dealing with RMA planning processes for:

  • requiring authority approval (the application that enables an organisation or person to apply to designate land)
  • notices of requirement (the application process for a designation on a piece of land)
  • designations that may result from those notices.

The guide:

  • explains where there may be opportunities to be involved in these processes
  • outlines the implications for affected landowners or neighbours.

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.

Everyday Guides Series

See more on...