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About the National Monitoring System

The purpose of the National Monitoring System and how it works.

Why we have a National Monitoring System

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) is the main piece of legislation guiding the management of New Zealand’s environment. Most of the everyday decision-making under the Act is delegated to local authorities (ie, territorial authorities and regional councils). 

Each year, we collect information from local authorities on their implementation of the RMA through the National Monitoring System (NMS). This information is used to improve policy and practice at the national and local level. 

What the National Monitoring System is

The NMS is a spreadsheet that councils fill in annually and submit to the Ministry. 

Councils are asked to provide detailed information on:

  • every plan or policy statement worked on 
  • every resource consent issued
  • other functions, tools and processes that councils are responsible for under the RMA. 

Most of the questions asked in the NMS are the same from year to year. Some are added or dropped as information requirements change. We have compiled and published this information as a national dataset for each financial year since 2014/15.    

How National Monitoring System data is used

NMS data is used to:

  • inform the development of resource management policy and practice by national and local government 
  • confirm local authorities are fulfilling their roles and responsibilities under the RMA
  • promote examples of RMA implementation best practice 
  • measure the success of RMA reforms
  • test common perceptions of the performance of the RMA system.

The NMS built upon and replaced the biennial RMA Survey of Local Authorities, which ran from 1996/97 to 2012/13. 

For more detailed information on the NMS, including the general structure and content, read the discussion document from when the NMS was proposed.