Managing natural hazards in New Zealand

This page provides an overview of natural hazards management in New Zealand and outlines the Government's proposal for managing significant risks. It includes guidance resources.

Roles and responsibilities 

Under the Resource Management Act (1991), regional councils and territorial authorities have specific functions to manage natural hazards. 

The Ministry’s role is to administer and set national policy under the RMA. We take a risk-based approach to managing all natural hazards. This involves considering both the likelihood of natural hazards occurring and the consequences when they do.

National direction

The management of significant risks from natural hazards is listed in section 6 of the RMA as a matter of national importance.   

Managing significant risks from natural hazards is a Government priority, see A way forward for national direction. The Minister has stated a preference for a National Policy Statement (NPS) with an indicative date for completion of 2018. 

Existing national objectives and policies for coastal natural hazards (including the effects of climate change) are in the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 which is administered by the Department of Conservation. 

See New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 [Department of Conservation website]

As part of the initial scoping for a NPS on natural hazards, Tonkin and Taylor carried out some research on using a risk based approach to natural hazard management under the RMA, and made some recommendations for what could be included in a NPS. See their report: Risk based approach to natural hazards under the RMA.


For a planning topic on natural hazards management see Natural hazards [Quality Planning website].

Our guidance publications are:

See also Planning and engineering guidance for potentially liquefaction-prone land [Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website]

This guidance developed by MBIE and this Ministry covers how to determine if liquefaction is an issue that needs to be managed, and appropriate land-use planning and building controls. It is in response to recommendations 186-189 of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Building Failure Caused by the Canterbury Earthquakes [Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website].