Making Good Decisions Programme – certification for RMA decision makers

The Making Good Decisions Programme helps councillors, community board members, and independent commissioners make better decisions under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

Commissioners must be accredited to sit on RMA hearings panels. This page outlines the accreditation process which is provided by the Making Good Decisions Programme.

There are 1138 accredited commissioners.

About the accreditation requirement

It is the role of consent authorities to appoint decision-makers to RMA hearing panels.

Under section 39B the RMA, appointees on hearing panels must have accreditation to make decisions on:

  • applications for resource consent
  • notice of requirements given under section 168 or 189
  • requests under clause 21(1) of Schedule 1 for a change to be made to a plan
  • reviews of resource consents
  • applications to change or cancel resource consent conditions
  • proposed policy statements and plans that have been notified
  • any hearing of an objection under section 357C of the RMA.

The requirement is for all members of RMA hearing panels given authority by a local authority under sections 33, 34, or 34A to be accredited, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

How to become certified

The certification process is run by WSP Environmental Training. 

To contact WSP:

Phone 0800 678 738 or visit the WSP website


Since the inception of MGD, recertification with ongoing professional development and training has been a core component in the development and operation of the MGD programme. Changes to legislation, case law and practice can have a significant impact on the way decisions are made and the role of decision makers.

Certificates are issued with an expiry date to ensure decision-makers have their knowledge and skills re-evaluated regularly (three years from initial certification and every five years after).

recertification diagram
recertification diagram

Online community of learning platform for accredited commissioners

Access the community of learning [WSP Making Good Decisions website]

Accredited commissioners (who hold a current certificate) and anyone enrolled in the Making Good Decisions programme can use this free online platform to:

  • network with each other
  • ask questions and have discussions
  • receive peer support and ongoing professional development
  • access resources.

Resources include short videos of commissioners sharing their experiences on:

  • how to take into account tikanga when organising and running a hearing
  • running efficient hearings.

There will also be the opportunity to sign-up for an on-line seminar, to be run later in July, on case law relevant to the commissioner role. 

Further resources will be added to the community of learning as they become available. Members will be able to suggest resources and provide feedback.

The online community of learning platform has been developed by WSP with support from the Ministry.  

Gazette notices on accreditation