Reforming the Resource Management System

The Government plans to repeal the Resource Management Act 1991(RMA) and replace it with three new pieces of legislation. Find out about the proposed new legislation, reform process and how you can have your say.  

Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker, talks about the biggest reforms to the RMA since its inception

About the proposed new legislation 

The three proposed new pieces of legislation to replace the RMA are as follows.

Natural and Built Environments Act 

This is the core piece of legislation to replace the RMA. The purpose of this Act is to enhance the quality of the environment to support the wellbeing of present and future generations.  

This would be achieved by:

  • promoting positive outcomes for both the natural and built environments
  • ensuring that use, development and protection of resources only occur within prescribed environmental limits 
  • ensuring adverse effects of activities on the environment are avoided, remedied or mitigated.  

Under the Act, central government’s proposed new National Planning Framework will provide a set of mandatory national policies and standards on specified aspects of the new system. These will include environmental natural limits, outcomes and targets.

Strategic Planning Act 

This Act provides a strategic and long-term approach to how we plan for using land and the coastal marine area.

Long-term spatial strategies in each region would be developed to identify areas that:

  • will be suitable for development
  • need to be protected or improved
  • will need new infrastructure and other social needs
  • are vulnerable to climate change effects and natural hazards such as earthquakes.  

The regional strategies would enable more efficient land and development markets to improve housing supply, affordability and choice, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

Climate Change Adaptation Act 

This Act would support New Zealand’s response to the effects of climate change. It would address the complex legal and technical issues associated with managed retreat and funding and financing adaptation.

Objectives of RM reform

Together this suite of legislation will: 

  • protect and restore the environment and its capacity to provide for the wellbeing of present and future generations
  • better enable development within natural environmental limits  
  • give proper recognition to the principles of Te Tiriti of Waitangi and provide greater recognition of te ao Māori including mātauranga Māori 
  • better prepare for adapting to climate change and risks from natural hazards, and better mitigate emissions contributing to climate change
  • improve system efficiency and effectiveness, and reduce complexity while retaining appropriate local democratic input.  

Basis for the reform

The reform is based on the findings of the comprehensive review of the resource management system which were released last year. The review was carried out by the independent Resource Management Review Panel led by Hon Tony Randerson, QC. It is the most significant, broad-ranging and inclusive review of the resource management system since the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) was enacted.   

Read the Panel’s report New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand

Reform process 

  • May–September 2021: An exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environment Bill will be agreed by Cabinet and then referred to a special select committee inquiry. The Strategic Planning Bill and Climate Change Adaptation Bill will be developed in a parallel process with the latter managed out of the Minister for Climate Change office.     
  • December 2021: The Natural and Built Environments Bill and the Strategic Planning Bill will be introduced to Parliament in late 2021. A standard select committee process will consider them. The Climate Change Adaptation Act will be developed in a similar timeframe.  
  • December 2022: It is intended that all three pieces of legislation are passed by the end of 2022.   

How you can have your say 

Interested parties are encouraged to participate in the select committee processes. The first one is expected to begin in the middle of this year with the exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments Act considered by the special select committee inquiry. More information will be provided closer to the time.  

Related documents 

Cabinet decisions 

 Ministers media releases

Supporting information

Find out more

For more information or to comment on the reforms email us at