View all publications


In the Matter of the Resource Management Act 1991


In the matter of the Inquiry into the Proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

Judge David Sheppard (Chair)
Associate Professor Jon Harding (Member)
Mr Kevin Prime (Member)
Mrs Jenni Vernon (Member


Preparation of the proposed national policy statement and appointment of Board of Inquiry

[1]    In November 2006, the Minister for the Environment (“the Minister”) determined that it is desirable to issue a national policy statement on freshwater management. Having sought and considered comments from the relevant iwi authorities and the persons and organisations that he considered appropriate, the Minister prepared a national policy statement on management of fresh water. The Minister chose to use the process set out in sections 47 to 52 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (“RMA”, or “the Act”), and appointed a board of inquiry to inquire into, and report on, the proposed national policy statement (“the proposed NPS”).

[2]     The role of the Board of Inquiry (“the Board”) has been to:

  • inquire into the proposed NPS;
  • consider all submissions made and all evidence given on the proposed NPS; and
  • report to the Minister on the contents and subject matter of the proposed NPS, including making recommendations about amendments to the content of the proposed NPS so that it will more fully serve its purpose and the purpose of the RMA.

[3]    A copy of the proposed NPS prepared by the Minister is at Appendix A. The Minister provided the Board with terms of reference, a copy of which is at Appendix B.

Public notification and making of submissions

[4]    On 21 August 2008, the Board decided to publicly notify the proposed NPS. The Board also decided to invite the making of written submissions on the proposed NPS during a period closing on 23 January 2009; and to allow the making of further submissions supporting or opposing submissions, after a summary of the primary submissions was published. The proposed NPS was publicly notified on 20 September 2008.

[5]    The Board received 149 submissions on the proposed NPS; and having published a summary of the primary submissions, invited the lodging of further submissions supporting or opposing primary submissions during a period closing on 14 April 2009. The Board received 30 further submissions.

Hearing and consideration of submissions

[6]    On 21 days during the period from 30 June 2009 to 18 September 2009, the Board conducted public hearings of submissions and further submissions, at which 80 submitters took part.

[7]     Having completed the inquiry hearing, the Board, in accordance with section 51 of the RMA, considered:

  1. the relevant contents of Part 2 of the RMA;
  2. the proposed NPS;
  3. the submissions and further submissions received;
  4. the evidence presented at the inquiry hearing; and
  5. other relevant matters raised by submitters.

[8]     Section 51(1)(ca) of the RMA also requires the Board to consider any additional material provided by the Minister under section 47A(1)(b) of the RMA. No such material was provided to the Board.

Report of the Board of Inquiry

[9]    The terms of reference provided to the Board outline matters to be explicitly addressed in its report to the Minister, as follows:

The Board shall provide, in its report:

  • recommendations on the wording of the proposed NPS, including the objectives and policies;
  • recommendations on how councils should give effect to the proposed NPS pursuant to section 55;
  • reasons for the content of its report and recommendations.

The report and recommendations may also address:

  • the internal consistency of the proposed NPS as a whole, and ways to address any potential inconsistencies;
  • the level of certainty or clarity provided by the proposed NPS, and if this is inadequate, ways to improve it;
  • the removal or further refinement of issues, objectives and policies where this is appropriate for achieving the policy approach of the proposed NPS;
  • the identification of any unintended or unforeseen, but likely outcomes of the proposed NPS, and ways to address these;
  • whether or not some of the changes needed to regional policy statements, district or regional plans would be best achieved via direct insertion into the regional policy statements or plans pursuant to section 55(2A)(b) of the RMA, and if so what those provisions should state.

[10]     Having considered the matters outlined in paragraph [7] above, the Board has prepared this report, which contains its recommendations, and which is made to the Minister in terms of section 51(2) of the RMA within the terms of reference set by the Minister.


1.  Invitations to comment were sent to 300 iwi organisations and other stakeholders in freshwater management.

2.  Terms of reference for board of inquiry on the proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.