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Resource Management Reforms

The Government plans to repeal the Resource Management Act 1991(RMA) and replace it with three new pieces of legislation. Read more about the reforms through this pānui.

In February 2021, the Government announced it would repeal the RMA and enact new legislation based on the recommendations of the Resource Management Review Panel. The three proposed acts are:

  • Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA), as the main replacement for the RMA, to protect and restore the environment while better enabling development

  • Strategic Planning Act (SPA), requiring the development of long-term regional spatial strategies to help coordinate and integrate decisions made under relevant legislation; and

  • Climate Adaptation Act (CAA), to address complex issues associated with managed retreat.


Inquiry on the Natural and Built Environments Bill: Parliamentary Paper – hearing of evidence (20 August 2021, part I)

On Friday 20 August 2021, the acting Chief Executive (CE) of the Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust, Nicola MacDonald, in her role as Pou Taiao on the Tāmaki Makaurau Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum submitted to the Environment Committee with regards to the Natural Built Environments Bill.

You can watch the submission from the Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum below from 1:00 to 13:12.



The Forum has membership of the nineteen mana whenua entities with interests in the Auckland Council area.

The purpose of the Forum is to support Mana Whenua in their role as Te Tiriti partner with Auckland Council and the Crown by partnering on all region-shaping decisions that require a collective voice, with a focus on Mana Whenua and mataawaka thriving and leading in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Each Mana Whenua entity nevertheless retains its autonomy, including over its ability to submit independently. This submission does not detract from those submissions.


Failure to recognise iwi and hapū rights and interests in freshwater (and other taonga): The Forum continues to be concerned at the lack of priority shown by successive Governments on the issue of recognising iwi rights and interests in freshwater (and other taonga). This Bill has the potential to continue and perpetuate that failure and undermine any future recognition of iwi rights and interests in freshwater. The development of this Bill further stresses the importance of the Government urgently prioritising the resolution of iwi rights and interests in freshwater.

Timeframes: The timeframe to provide a submission on the Bill has been extremely limited. Such tight timeframes will affect those who are under-resourced the most. This is often our whānau, hapū and iwi. A longer timeframe will be required once the full Bill is introduced.

Cohesion with the other reform: There are currently a range of interconnected reform processes underway (including the Three Waters Review and those other Bills that will be introduced as a part of this reform package). These strands of reform are connected and there needs to be cohesion. In our view, the development of the various strands of reform appears siloed. This needs to be addressed.

Treaty of Waitangi settlements, and negotiated agreements under the RMA, must be upheld through the reform: It is critical that redress provided under Treaty of Waitangi Settlements are upheld. Whilst the Accompanying Paper to the Exposure Draft notes that Treaty Settlements will be upheld, this will need to be carefully considered (and tested) through the rest of the policy development and legislative drafting phases.

The Climate Adaptation Act: There is currently very little visibility over the Climate Adaptation Act. It is important that the various reform programmes are connected and progressing in tandem.

Transitional arrangements: Transition arrangements are currently unclear. This should be highlighted. Specifically, in relation to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management, it will be important to ensure that the work undertaken by iwi to date on Te Mana o Te Wai within the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management must not be derogated from through any new system (if those arrangements have been developed with iwi).


Purpose (clause 4): The Forum supports the inclusion of Te Oranga o Te Taiao in the Purpose. It is clear that further work is required to ensure that Te Oranga o te Taiao will be upheld across the entire system. The Forum expects that the legislative provisions within the Bill will provide the foundation for Te Oranga o te Taiao (in this context) and enable the relationship of iwi/hapū with Te Taiao and related tikanga to be recognised and upheld.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi (clause 6): The Forum supports section 6 of the Bill that requires all persons exercising powers and performing functions and duties under the Bill to give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Environmental limits (clause 7): The concept of environmental limits is likely to lead to better protection of the environment and its life-sustaining capacity. However national level limits may lead to bottom lines (rather than ceilings) that are subject to political maneuvering and become the targets to which development aims. This must be avoided.

Environmental outcomes (clause 8): The environmental outcomes expressed in the Bill need to be interpreted through the lens of Te Oranga o te Taiao (to ensure that where outcomes may conflict, an approach or interpretation that enables Te Oranga o te Taiao is upheld) and the obligation to give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

National planning framework (Part 3): Whilst the concept of a National Planning Framework is reasonably necessary, the process to develop the content of the National Planning Framework is currently unclear. In that regard, the Forum considers the co-development of, and regional input into, a national direction setting framework is critical.

Natural and Built Environments Plans (Part 4): The composition of proposed Planning Committees, whose primary function will be to make decisions on and maintain National and Built Environment Plans, should be designed to reflect Treaty of Waitangi settlement arrangements, iwi and hapū rohe and Local Authority boundaries. The purpose of National and Built Environment Plans (clause 20) should be to achieve the purpose of the Act, provide a framework for the integrated management of the region that the plan relates to, and include provisions to resolve conflict between environmental outcomes.


If you would like to provide any feedback to our Resource Management Unit regarding any of the reforms please feel free to contact


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