Developing the National Monitoring System

This page outlines the development of the National Monitoring System for the Resource Management Act 1991 and its implementation. It includes information on future expansion and review provisions.

Project governance

The Ministry has been working in partnership with local authorities (city or district councils, regional councils and unitary authorities) and other central government agencies during the development of the National Monitoring System (NMS) and will continue to do so as it is implemented, reviewed and improved.

The scoping, design and development of the NMS

The NMS project is divided into three stages.

Stages one (scoping) and two (design and development) are complete.  We are currently in the second phase of stage three (implementation).

National Monitoring System project stages

Stage one – scoping

In stage one (which ran from late 2011 to July 2012), the Ministry undertook scoping studies to provide a better understand the existing scope of RMA monitoring practices and any future monitoring requirements.

These scoping studies included:

The scoping studies identified elements that needed to be considered when designing, developing and implementing a national monitoring system for the RMA.

Stage two – Design and development

A discussion document on the proposed NMS was published in June 2013.

See National Monitoring System for the Resource Management Act 1991  A proposal for discussion

Consultation with RMA implementers (local authorities, the Environmental Protection Authority, requiring authorities, heritage protection authorities and other government agencies) was undertaken from 17 June to 30 August 2013.

Seventeen workshops were held with local authorities during the consultation period to facilitate a better understanding and promote feedback on the proposal. Sixty-seven submissions were received, with 51 from local authorities (64 per cent of all local authorities) with the remainder from requiring authorities, central government agencies, professional bodies and other RMA implementers.

See A proposed National Monitoring System for the Resource Management Act 1991: Summary of feedback from consultation.

There was further analysis and feasibility work to help understand the potential impacts and benefits of the proposed system. This fed into decisions to proceed with a staged implementation of the NMS.

Stage three – implementation (ongoing)

The NMS is being implemented progressively and in partnership with local authorities.


The first implementation stage included the collection of a set of information that closely reflected what had previously been captured by the RMA Survey of Local Authorities. A key change was the requirement to report details about individual plan changes, resource consent processes and iwi management plans for the 2014/2015 financial year.

All local authorities were required to report this information to the Ministry by 31 July 2015. This data was validated and analysed and released in June 2016.  

See Reporting for 2014/15


The information required from local authorities for the 2015/16 financial year was very similar to 2014/2015 financial year. A few small changes and improvements were made in terms of data the data required and guidance provided. All local authorities are required to report this information to the Ministry by 29 July 2016. 

See Information required from local authorities

Current implementation stage - Information required for 2016/17

The information required from local authorities for the 2016/17 financial year is similar in scope to the 2015/16 financial year. However, there are some amendments to the template and some additional data requirements. The guidance material for the 2016/17 financial year highlights the changes and explains any issues of interpretation that have emerged in the NMS reporting/data collection to date. All local authorities are required to report this information to the Ministry by 28 July 2017.

See Information required from local authorities

Expanding and reviewing the NMS

Periodic reviews and improvements to the NMS will be undertaken to ensure that its objectives are achieved. These reviews will be transparent and will consider the impacts of any proposed changes for local authorities to modify their monitoring systems and processes. 

The Ministry is currently defining the scope of any further information requirements and assessing the: 

  • ability of local authorities to collect the data
  • effects on local authorities as a result of the additional data collection requirements 
  • capability of data management processes and IT solutions to streamline collections, analysis and reporting.