Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use

The Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use causing woody debris and sediment-related damage in Tairāwhiti and Wairoa has been delivered. Work is now underway to progress recommendations.

Progress on land use report recommendations

On 3 August 2023, Ministers announced a package of actions responding to the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use.

The Government’s response to the inquiry has two phases:

  1. Immediate and near-term actions that reduce risk, such as clearing woody debris
  2. Longer term actions to build resilience. 

There are four key actions in the first phase to reduce risk:

  • Increase efforts to manage woody debris, including reaching a shared view of the size of the remaining problem, how action should be prioritised, and how it should be paid for.
  • Appoint a statutory Resource Management advisor to work with the Gisborne District Council and advise the Minister for the Environment on opportunities to strengthen the resource management framework in Tairāwhiti/Gisborne.
  • Appoint a facilitator to build partnerships, including with the forestry industry, landowners and Māori interests, to support an integrated approach to recovery and longer-term resilience to these kind of events.
  • Progress actions to improve forestry management, in response to the Inquiry’s recommendations related to clear felling.  This will include working with Gisborne District Council on options to speed up a review of existing resource consents, provide national guidance on forestry slash risk, and complete changes under the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry.

RMA Advisor and Facilitator appointed 

On 4 September 2023, Ministers appointed Michael Campbell as Resource Management Act (RMA) Advisor and Rachel Reese as a Facilitator. These roles were established to help support recovery in Tairāwhiti. 
As RMA Advisor, Michael will work together with Gisborne District Council on the resource management framework governing activities that contribute to risk from sediment, erosion and woody debris and supporting the transition to more sustainable land uses. 
Michael is a director of an Auckland-based resource management consultancy with more than 20 years’ experience in plan-making and consenting under the RMA. A former group manager for consenting at Waitakere City Council, he has experience across a range of RMA matters. 
As a Facilitator, Rachel will assist the Gisborne District Council, hapū, iwi, and stakeholders in the region, and support an integrated response.  
Rachel is a former mayor of Nelson and highly experienced as a facilitator and mediator for regional partnering on environmental matters. She will be advising the Ministers of the Environment and Forestry on non-RMA actions to support the recovery and response in the context of the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use recommendations.  
The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries will provide support for the two new appointments as they build on the work done by the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use. 

Appointees Terms of Reference

Cabinet papers

The Cabinet papers below detail the process for this work and expected timings. 

Government response to the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use in Tairāwhiti-Gisborne and Wairoa - August 2023

Next steps following the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use in Tairāwhiti-Gisborne and Wairoa - July 2023

Inquiry panel's report and recommendations

The report was first published on 12 May 2023. An updated version was published on 17 May 2023 to correct recommendation numbering errors and internal references to the recommendations only.

The Inquiry panel was appointed in late February. In March, eight large community hui and approximately 50 smaller hui with local organisations were held. 313 public submissions were received by the April 6 closing date.

The Inquiry panel submitted its report and recommendations to Environment Minister Hon David Parker and Forestry Minister Hon Peeni Henare on Friday May 12.


Consultation on the inquiry

The consultation closed on the 6th April 2023.

Panel for the inquiry

The Inquiry Panel is Hon Hekia Parata (Chair), Matthew McCloy and Dave Brash.

Panel scope

The Inquiry was asked to investigate past and present land use in the region with reference to:

  • storm damage and its causes
  • current practices
  • regulatory and policy settings.

It included the impact of storm damage caused by woody debris (including forestry slash) and sediment on communities, livestock, buildings, and the environment, as well as associated economic drivers and constraints.The scope was specifically to cover Tairāwhiti and Wairoa regions.


Tairawhiti Wairoa Land Use Inquiry
TeTairāwhiti, Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, and Te Wairoa regions.

This image shows part of the East Coast, North Island of New Zealand.  This is the area that the Inquiry focused on.

Tairawhiti Wairoa Land Use Inquiry
TeTairāwhiti, Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, and Te Wairoa regions.

This image shows part of the East Coast, North Island of New Zealand.  This is the area that the Inquiry focused on.

The first half of the Inquiry focused on public engagement with:

  • public and community leaders
  • sectors where land use has impacted Gisborne and Wairoa.

Numerous well-attended public/community hui were held around the regions, noting community concerns and aspirations for the region and encouraging online submissions.