Resource management system reform

The Government plans to repeal the Resource Management Act 1991(RMA) and replace it with three new pieces of legislation. Find out about the proposed new legislation, reform process and how you can have your say.  

The resource management system reform programme: What does this mean for Aotearoa?

About the proposed new legislation

The three proposed new pieces of legislation to replace the RMA are as follows.

Natural and Built Environments Act

This is the core piece of legislation to replace the RMA. The purpose of this Act is to enhance the quality of the environment to support the wellbeing of present and future generations.

This would be achieved by:

  • promoting positive outcomes for both the natural and built environments
  • ensuring that use, development and protection of resources only occur within prescribed environmentallimitsensuring adverse effects of activities on the environment are avoided, remedied or mitigated.

Under the Act, central government’s proposed new National Planning Framework will provide a set of mandatory national policies and standards on specified aspects of the new system. These will include environmental natural limits, outcomes and targets.

Strategic Planning Act

The Strategic Planning Act provides a strategic and long-term approach to how we plan for using land and the coastal marine area.

Long-term spatial strategies in each region will be developed to identify areas that: 

  • will be suitable for development
  • need to be protected or improved
  • will need new infrastructure and other social needs such as hospitals and schools
  • are vulnerable to climate change effects and natural hazards such as earthquakes.

The regional strategies will enable more efficient land and development markets to improve housing supply, affordability and choice, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The Government has established a new interdepartmental executive board, the Strategic Planning Reform Board, to oversee the development of the Act. This is as part of the wider resource management reforms. 

It will be only the second interdepartmental Executive Board established under the Public Service Act 2020. 

Read more about the Strategic planning board.  

Climate Change Adaptation Act

This Act would support New Zealand’s response to the effects of climate change. It would address the complex legal and technical issues associated with managed retreat and funding and financing adaptation.

Objectives of RM reform

Together this suite of legislation will:

  • protect and restore the environment and its capacity to provide for the wellbeing of present and future generations
  • better enable development within natural environmental limits
  • give proper recognition to the principles of Te Tiriti of Waitangi and provide greater recognition of te ao Māori including mātauranga Māori
  • better prepare for adapting to climate change and risks from natural hazards, and better mitigate emissions contributing to climate change
  • improve system efficiency and effectiveness, and reduce complexity while retaining appropriate local democratic input.

Basis for the reform

The reform is based on the findings of the comprehensive review of the resource management system which were released last year. The review was carried out by the independent Resource Management Review Panel led by Hon Tony Randerson, QC. It is the most significant, broad-ranging and inclusive review of the resource management system since the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) was enacted.

Read the Panel’s report New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand.

The way forward for reform

  • The proposed Natural and Built Environment Act is the primary piece of legislation in the reform package and will be progressed initially through an exposure draft. An exposure draft refers to legislation that has not yet formally been introduced into parliament.
  • The exposure draft of the NBA will include the most important sections of the Bill such as the overall purpose of the Bill and what it aims to achieve, the Treaty clause, the National Planning Framework and region-wide plans.
  • The exposure draft will be considered by a select committee inquiry in the second half of 2021.
  • The select committee will report its findings to Parliament and any changes will be made before the full Bill is formally introduced. Other components of the full bill that were not developed in time for the exposure draft will be decided by Cabinet before being included in the full Bill.
  • The SPA will be developed in parallel to the NBA and will be closely aligned to the development of the CAA.
  • A standard legislative and select committee process will follow with the aim of the NBA being passed into law in by the end of 2022 and the SPA and CAA in 2023.

Regional hui held on resource management reforms

Interested parties are encouraged to participate in the select committee processes. The first one is expected to begin in the middle of this year with the exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments Act considered by the special select committee inquiry. More information will be provided closer to the time.  

We recognise that engagement with Māori on the reform of Aotearoa’s resource management system is critical. The independent resource management review panel was clear the future resource management system should provide a more effective role for Maori. Whānau, hapū and iwi Māori were invited to attend the following regional hui with Hon Kiritapu Allan, Associate Minister for the Environment to discuss the proposed changes to the new system and how it will impact them.



Friday 26 March


4.00pm - 5.30pm 


Panama Square, 14 Garden Place

Saturday 27 March


9.30am - 11.00am


Gather & Co
197 Commerce Street

Wednesday 31 March


10.30am - 12.30pm


Comfort Hotel Flames,

8 Waverley Street

Wednesday 31 March


3.00pm - 4.30pm


Ponsonby Central

146 Ponsonby Road (carpark access through 6 Brown Street)

Thursday 1 April


10.00am - 12.00pm


War Memorial Theatre
159 Bright Street