New Zealand’s Resource Consenting Process


Planners in New Zealand follow the resource consenting process to manage the environment and wellbeing of people in the country. The resource consents give permission for the use of natural and physical resources in the country. This is very specific to New Zealand. The RMA or the Resource Management Act which is a statute that is followed for the resource consenting process is a very important document in New Zealand planning systems.

New Zealand

Resource Consenting Activities

Activities that are not permitted under the RMA require a resource consent. This can be for infrastructure or land use consent process, subdivision consent which is usually the ways in which houses, and other buildings are subdivided. There are also permits under the resource consenting process which are water permit, discharge permit and coastal permit. The waterways, rubbish systems and waste management, and coastal issues are all controlled by these specific permits for the management of New Zealand land and water usage.

The resource consenting process also follows the regional and district plans which gives specific classifications on the ways on an activity that requires resource consenting. These specific activities are divided into six classifications which are: Permitted, Controlled, Restricted Discretionary, Discretionary, Non-Complying, and Prohibited activities. These activities are specified in the RMA and specific resource consenting processes need to be followed for each of these activities. Except Permitted and Prohibited activities all other activities require a resource consent all the time before they can take place in New Zealand’s built environment.

Permitted activities are mostly allowed without a consent process, and Prohibited activities usually cannot go ahead even with a consent process as they could be too risky for the environment. For Controlled activities, a city council authority usually must grant consent, but some conditions may be imposed without which the activity cannot proceed. For the Discretionary activities, the planning authorities including planners who work for these authorities have the full judgement and discretion on whether the consent is granted or not which is dependent on the specific activity for which the consent is sought.

Consent Granting Authorities

The authorities which grant consent are usually regional councils and territorial authorities, who hire planners and planning agencies to carry out the resource consenting process. There are many such private and public entities around New Zealand who hire planners for the resource consenting processes. The resource consent can be applied from any person who lives in New Zealand if they follow the application process that is required which needs to include the possible environmental effects the activities might have on New Zealand’s environment.

The resource consenting activity should be in accordance with the district and regional plans of New Zealand. Usually, the consenting authority provides a resource consent with specific tasks and conditions that the person seeking the consent has to follow so that the effect of the consent is minimal on the environment and does not adversely affect the planning and infrastructure of the New Zealand environment. Planners who work for the regional councils and territorial authorities have a set of rules that they need to follow while reviewing the consents and make sure that the resource consenting application abides by these strict rules and regulations of New Zealand Resource Management Law.

Appealing Resource Consents

People can appeal resource consenting applications to the Environmental Court if they are not happy with the decisions of the planning authorities for their resource consenting application. Any decisions made by the Environment Court will replace that of the councils and territorial authorities. One of the complaints and controversy surrounding resource consenting is that it takes a long time for the authorities to process them which can be expensive. Some people also think that minor activities for buildings consents should not require strict rules as they do under the resource consenting laws.


The resource consenting process of New Zealand although not well known, is thought to be one of the best in the world in preserving the environment and making sure that adverse effects are not undertaking for harming the environment of New Zealand. It is a very useful legal process and document and one that all planners in New Zealand must follow. Studying planning in New Zealand includes the resource management act and resource consenting process.  This document will be useful for anyone who wishes to learn more about New Zealand’s environmental processes and laws.

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