Moving Beyond the RMA

June 29, 2021


Infrastructure New Zealand welcomes the release of the exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments Bill.

Infrastructure New Zealand has been a key proponent of reforming the resource management system. Getting to this point has been years in the making. This exposure draft marks a significant milestone in moving beyond the Resource Management Act 1991 to a system that is resilient, efficient, effective, future-ready and better able to provide for New Zealanders’ wellbeing, now and in future.

Infrastructure New Zealand’s Chief Advisor Claire Edmondson states she is encouraged by the Bill’s overall direction and calls it a radical shift that will see process-heavy matters shifted to a national planning framework.

“This will serve as a key catalyst in achieving a resource management system that is nimble and responsive.

“The national planning framework will effectively be a set of regulations that Cabinet can update or review without having to go through the Parliamentary process as is the case when passing a bill or amending an act.”

A key criticism, amongst many others, has been that the RMA failed miserably in adequately accounting for cumulative effects. We are encouraged to see that the exposure draft shifts away from just managing effects of activities to setting positive outcomes.

“The draft Bill also explicitly mentions housing supply, well-functioning urban areas and responding to growth.”

Ms Edmondson says the Bill could be strengthened on infrastructure matters as it still does not go far enough in considering infrastructure an integral part of the resource management system.

She clarifies that while the Bill is welcomed, what will ultimately matter is how clear national direction is, how well the new law will be applied and how the courts will interpret it.

Ms Edmondson states, “The mismatch between intention, interpretation and application has been a key failure of the RMA and we cannot afford to let that happen again.”

Ms Edmondson says while it is common knowledge Infrastructure New Zealand has been a visibly strong advocate for the reforms, they are grateful for the support from Employers and Manufacturers Association, Business New Zealand, Property Council New Zealand and the Environmental Defence Society over the last few years in making a convincing case for change.


For further information and media queries, please contact Claire Edmondson, Chief Advisor, on 021 272 7879 or at