This guide is number 4.1 of the 13-guide series called An Everyday Guide to the RMA.

Publication reference number: ME 1540

This guide explains the role of the Environment Court and identifies who is involved in Environment Court hearings under the Resource Management Act (RMA). It explains why you may want to take proceedings to the Environment Court and what’s 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 are 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 allows you to participate in certain decisions about the environment at your local council, and in some instances allows you to appeal these decisions to the Environment Court.

About this guide

This guide is the 11th in a series of guides called An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act (see more details about the series below).

It explains:

  • the role of the Environment Court
  • who’s involved in the court’s hearings
  • why you may want to take proceedings to the court and, if so, what’s involved.

It also outlines other ways you can be involved in a case if you did not lodge the appeal yourself. Remember, if you’re thinking about going to the Environment Court, you should consider seeking advice from a lawyer or a resource management professional.

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 An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act. 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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