The purpose of this glossary is to assist with understanding the meaning of terms used in this guide. Some of these terms have specific legislative definitions in section 2 of the RMA.


Request for a decision to be changed, predominately to the Environment Court.

Award costs

The Judge orders one party to make a payment to another party.


Meaning an agreement has been consciously made, and certain actions are now either required or prohibited.


A person appointed by a council to carry out statutory decision-making duties on the council’s behalf, or to serve as an independent adviser to the council in the making of those statutory decisions.

Consent order

A written agreement that is approved by a court.

Environment Court

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

Heads of agreement

Similar to a memorandum of understanding or letter of intent.


A Māori elder.


Legal action.

Mana whenua

Customary authority over a particular area of land.


A process to resolve disputes.


A person, group, or organisation taking part in an appeal or other legal proceedings.


A plan defined under the RMA, including regional policy statements, regional plans, and district plans.

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 local council for an activity that might affect the environment, and that isn’t allowed ‘as of right’ in the district or regional plan.

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.


An agreement between parties.

Tangata whenua

In relation to a particular area, means the iwi, or hapū, that holds mana whenua over that area.

Tikanga Māori

Māori customary values and practices.


Extended family group.

Without prejudice

Communications made in a genuine attempt to settle a dispute are prevented from being referred to in court.

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