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.


Provisions in a district plan that provide notice to the community of an intention by the council or a requiring authority to use land in the future for a particular work or project.

Department of Conservation (DOC)

Administers land under the Conservation and National Parks Acts, and under the RMA, oversees the management of the coastal environment.

Environment Court

A specialist court where people can appeal decisions, including those made by councils on a policy statement or plan, or on a resource consent application; or where they can apply for an enforcement order.


Gives people who have already written submissions the chance to speak to the decision-maker about what a council or an applicant is proposing.

Local authority

Means a regional council or territorial authority (and a council which acts as both a regional and district council).

Ministry for the Environment

Advises the Government on policies, laws and other means to improve environmental management in New Zealand.

National direction

Supports local decision-making under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). This is provided using national policy statements (NPS), national environmental standards (NES) and national planning standards (planning standards).

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.

National Planning Standards

Are issued by the Minister for the Environment or the Minister of Conservation (for coastal marine area matters) to standardise elements of RMA plans and policy statements.

National policy statement (NPS)

Enable Government to prescribe objectives and policies for matters of national significance, which are relevant to achieving the sustainable management purpose of the RMA. A NPS may also give particular direction to local authorities as to how they need to give effect to the policies and objectives of the NPS.

Notice of requirement

A proposal for a designation, which may be notified or non-notified.

Regional policy statement

Must be prepared by all regional councils. They help set the direction for managing all resources across the region.

Resource consent

Permission from the council for an activity that might affect the environment, and that isn’t allowed ‘as of right’ under a plan, a national environmental standard, regulation and the RMA.

Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA)

New Zealand’s main piece of environmental legislation. It provides a framework for managing the effects of activities on the environment.

Standard plan-making process

The regular process for a council to develop a plan or plan change, involving notifying the public, receiving submissions and holding hearings.


Written comments, opinions, concerns, support or opposition about a proposed development, a designation or a proposed policy statement or plan.

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