RMA reform – confirmed and underway

Related expertise

The Government has confirmed its intention to repeal the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and replace it with three new pieces of legislation.

The Minister for the Environment, David Parker explains that the changes are set to “improve the natural environment, enable more development within environmental limits, provide an effective role for Maori, and improve housing supply and affordability”.

The three new Acts will be:

  • National and Built Environments Act (NBEA) which has been termed as “the core piece of legislation replacing the RMA”. We understand this will provide for the controls on land use and environmental regulation. The focus being on ensuring that positive outcomes for the environment (defined as including both the natural and built environments) are identified and promoted – rather than controlling the effects on the environment.
  • Strategic Planning Act (SPA) which will integrate functions under the RMA, the Local Government Act 2002, the Land Transport Management Act 2003 and the Climate Change Response Act 2002 to enable clearer and more efficient decision-making and investment. Advisors have identified that there are too many plans and Policy guidelines. This Act will continue with the move towards National Standards.
  • Climate Change Adaptation Act (CCAA) to address complex issues associated with how to plan for, fund, and finance managed retreat from areas which will be significantly affected by climate change. This will be managed out of the Minister for Climate Change office.

The National and Built Environments Act specific process

Given its “significance and complexity”, the NBEA will be progressed first. An exposure draft will be subject to a select committee inquiry and public consultation ahead of the Bill being introduced.

A Ministerial Oversight Group will be given delegated decision-making authority to work through the policy details needed to progress the exposure draft.

Timing and processing

The Government aims to have all new legislation passed within the current term of Government – late 2022. Very ambitious delivery timeframes.


The primary method for engagement will be via submission during the select committee process.

A shift from a complex ‘effects-based management system’ towards one that focuses on the achievement of positive outcomes within environmental limits will be challenging. It will be critical that the outcomes sought are attainable and are tailored to represent the great diversity across New Zealand’s built and natural environments.

Please contact a member of our resource management team for more detail of what the reform might mean for you and your business and how you can become involved.

Disclaimer: the content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.

Related insights

Find an expert