This guide is number 1.3 in a 13-guide series called An Everyday Guide to the RMA.

Publication reference number: ME 1532

This guide will help you understand national direction under the Resource Management Act (RMA), particularly national environmental standards, national policy statements and national planning standards.

Resource management in New Zealand

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 councils set rules and requirements to manage activities ranging from building houses, clearing vegetation and 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.

National direction to support the RMA

The RMA is largely implemented by local authorities (regional councils, unitary authorities, territorial authorities (city and district councils)). Central government can support implementation on national, regional or local issues, using a range of tools we call national direction.

About this guide

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

It will help you understand national direction, particularly:

  • national environmental standards
  • national policy statements
  • national planning standards.

It also covers:

  • water conservation orders
  • how you can be involved in national direction RMA processes.

This guide does not cover setting regulations for administration and procedural matters under section 360 of the RMA.

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

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