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 third and final stage (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 understanding of 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) and 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. This data was released in June 2016.

2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18

Changes and improvements were made to the content and to the way data was collected, and more detailed guidance was provided to local authorities. The 2017/18 NMS data was released on 15 March 2019. 

See Information required from local authorities

Current implementation stage - Information required for 2018/19

The information required from local authorities for the 2018/19 financial year is similar in scope to the 2017/18 financial year. There are some amendments to the template and some additional data requirements. 

See Information required from local authorities

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.