About compliance, monitoring and enforcement by local authorities

This page provides information on the compliance, monitoring and enforcement responsibilities of local authorities under the RMA and links to relevant reports.

Local authorities' compliance, monitoring and enforcement responsibilities

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), local authorities (councils) are responsible for monitoring to ensure activities meet requirements under the RMA, plan rules and resource consents. The RMA does not prescribe how councils should carry out this function - councils have discretion to determine how to achieve compliance in their respective areas. They use compliance promotion (such as education, on-site directions and awareness-raising) as the preferred method for encouraging compliance. When necessary, councils use formal enforcement action to discourage and penalise non-compliance and direct remediation of the damage.

Improving knowledge about compliance, monitoring and enforcement

In November 2016, the Ministry released a report on compliance, monitoring and enforcement by councils under the RMA. The report sought to address gaps in the Ministry's evidence-base, to build a more comprehensive understanding of how councils are carrying out compliance, monitoring and enforcement around New Zealand. The report built on data collected as part of the National Monitoring System and the RMA Survey of Local Authorities.

The purpose of the report was to:

  • inform the Ministry's work in assessing the effectiveness of policy behind compliance, monitoring and enforcement
  • inform councils’ compliance, monitoring and enforcement practice - by providing examples of other councils’ activities and outlining the strengths and weaknesses of certain approaches
  • inform the content of the data request set to all councils annually through the National Monitoring System
  • enable the public to better understand how councils carry out compliance, monitoring and enforcement.

See the report: Compliance, monitoring and enforcement by local authorities under the Resource Management Act 1991

Links to further resources and reports

Quality Planning website – this website developed by the Ministry and partners provides information and guidance on compliance, monitoring and enforcement.

Basic Investigative Skills for Local Government – the purpose of this document, drafted by Waikato Regional Council, is to provide council enforcement officers with generic investigative skills, including skills for investigations under the RMA.

Last Line of Defence: compliance, monitoring and enforcement of New Zealand’s environmental law - this report by the Environmental Defence Society outlines the importance of compliance, monitoring and enforcement under a range of environmental laws, gives an overview of current practice, and highlights opportunities for innovations and improvements. Part-funded by the Ministry, the report builds on the findings in our report Compliance, monitoring and enforcement by local authorities under the Resource Management Act 1991.