29 Jun 2021

Process starts for replacing Resource Management Act

9:27 am on 29 June 2021

Today marks the start of a highly unusual process for the new laws that will eventually replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Hon David Parker, Minister for the Environment

Environment Minister David Parker says the process will allow the public to have an early say on the legislation. Photo: Crux Ltd

The first draft of the key legislation, the Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA), has been released and will now go through two rounds of public consultation.

It is called an 'exposure draft' and will be put out for public feedback, that will help to influence the final version.

Environment Minister David Parker said holding an initial select committee inquiry was a "novel way" to provide a platform for the public to have an early say on the legislation.

A second select committee process will be held when the full bill is introduced to Parliament.

"This is a once in a generation opportunity to get this right, so we want to make sure we do get it right," Parker said.


The Natural and Built Environments Act would include a mandatory requirement for the environment minister to set environmental limits to protect ecological integrity and human health.

According to briefing papers, the legislation would also set up a National Planning Framework "to support the well-being of present generations, without compromising the well-being of future generations".

Outcomes specified in the draft include environmental protection, iwi and hapū interests, cultural heritage, protection of customary rights, housing, rural development, infrastructure provision, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The NBA would carry over the RMA's requirement to "avoid, remedy, or mitigate" adverse effects of activities on the environment, but they must not place unreasonable costs on development and resource use.

It would intentionally curtail subjective amenity values, which Parker has previously stated "favours the status quo".

However, this would not be at the expense of quality urban design, including appropriate urban tree cover, the briefing said.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Decision-makers would be required to "give effect to" the principles of Te Tiriti, replacing the current RMA requirement to "take into account" those principles.

Compared to the RMA's current Treaty clause, those with powers and functions under the NBA would have a "stronger duty" to give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti, the briefing said.

Next steps

In total, three bills will replace the RMA:

  • Natural Built Environments Act (NBA)
  • Strategic Planning Act (SPA)
  • Climate Adaptation Act (CAA)

The outcome of the select committee inquiry will feed into work on the NBA, and inform the other bills.

After the three bills are introduced to Parliament, there will be an opportunity to submit on them through the usual select committee process.

The NBA and SPA are both expected to be introduced to Parliament early next year and passed before the end of the parliamentary term.

The CAA will be consulted on early next year, with the aim to have legislation introduced to Parliament in 2023.

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