Archive | Resource management

Bill opponents talk “shambles”, not ideology

Opposition to the latest Resource Management Act reforms is less about ideology, more about competence, practicality & effects on process.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill scraped through its second reading in Parliament yesterday by a 2-vote majority, 61-59, courtesy of Maori Party support.

Building, Construction & Environment Minister Nick Smith has promoted the bill’s value, particularly in addressing Auckland’s housing shortage.

The rest of Parliament’s parties, however, reject that basis for the bill and criticise the bill’s structure.

Act MP David Seymour commented: “And you thought RMA reform couldn’t get any worse. The latest Resource Management Act reform won’t be any more effective than the previous 18 reforms to the act.

“Nick Smith is dreaming if he thinks the worst of RMA negotiations are behind him. The consensus from across the political spectrum and from submitters is that the proposed reform is a shambles, adding complexity instead of cutting bureaucracy.

“Our housing shortage is bad enough as it is. Adding more iwi consultation, cost & complexity to the development process would be disastrous for prospective homeowners. Therefore Act cannot support this bill.”

Mr Seymour said that, post-election, “a stronger Act Party will make National commit to fundamental RMA reform that simplifies processes, values property rights and gets houses built.”

Labour says housing crisis assertion wrong

The Labour Party said, in its select committee minority view: “The assertion that the bill is needed because the RMA is the cause of the Auckland housing crisis is wrong, and is no justification for this flawed bill. The following table shows that more new houses were consented in Auckland & New Zealand in 2004 than in 2016. The RMA was in force throughout.”

Labour continued: “The very broad range of submitters opposed to the bill included Local Government NZ and a great many regional & district councils, major land developers including Fulton Hogan, major corporates including Fonterra, infrastructure owners including airport & quarry owners, all environmental non-governmental organisations, the NZ Law Society and numerous others.

“Even amongst the minority of submitters who supported parts of the bill, many used guarded words like ‘we support the intent of the bill’ before criticising much of its detail.

“The bill, if passed, would add complexity to the Resource Management Act 1991 and make it less effective and more expensive to use, rather than better. Legitimate complaints by submitters include:

  • The draconian ministerial regulatory powers to override plans and control consents, and to limit rights of participation. These are tantamount to a return to the National Development Act 1979, and are on the spectrum of the patently excessive regulation-making powers abused under the former Economic Stabilisation Act 1987
  • The power to standardise plan formats & definitions inappropriately extends to the content & substantive provisions of plans
  • The rule-making powers of the minister are also far too broad
  • These 3 forms of ministerial powers are so poorly constrained and patently excessive as to be constitutionally outrageous
  • The bill also overrides – and allows the minister to further override – local & district council functions in such a broad & fundamental way that it overturns the traditional division of power & roles between central & local government
  • The limits to public notification & participation, including on the subdivision of land, are wrong. Those concerned include land developers, and the owners of existing infrastructure concerned about reverse sensitivity effects on their operations. Many submitters said that earlier changes to notification have worked in recent years, and that further change is unnecessary
  • The department said the regulatory powers that can limit rights of participation are intended to apply in urban areas, but the sections as drafted also apply to regional councils and could be used to stop people advocating against pollution of rivers
  • Water conservation orders are undermined
  • New provisions introducing unreasonably short time limits for some council processes will have the unintended consequence of councils making more activities discretionary rather than controlled. Overall this will complicate & delay consent applications rather than speed them up
  • The codification of collaborative processes is unnecessary, wrong in its detail and adds further complexity to the RMA
  • Plan-making processes are curtailed, with insufficient safeguards to ensure that single-step processes are fair & robust when appeal rights are abrogated
  • Appeal rights are curtailed, to the detriment of adversely affected private parties, councils, communities & the environment
  • The important experience & wisdom of the Environment Court is lost from many decisions
  • Many changes introduce more complexity to the RMA, through convoluted decision-making criteria & extra process alternatives. The multiple flow diagrams helpfully produced by the department to assist us illustrated how this bill makes the RMA processes more complex
  • There are a myriad other changes to the RMA & other acts being amended by the bill, many of which are wrong.

The Labour Party concluded: “Some of the changes proposed to national guidance through policy statements & environment standards are appropriate, but others are unnecessarily complex and will give rise to less consistency, not more.”

Greens’ analysis an indictment of ministerial & National performance

The Green Party – regarded by many in mainstream business as a fringe outfit to be disparaged – presented an analysis in its minority view which was an indictment of ministerial & National Party performance.

The Greens said: “The Resource Management Act is a crucial foundation of New Zealand’s environmental law & planning system. Changes to it should be based on sound analysis & evidence and have broad cross-party support so they are enduring. The bill has neither. Many of the changes appear driven by ideology & anecdote, rather than robust analysis & evidence.

“The bill attracted 647 unique submissions & 94 form-style submissions, many of them critical of its fundamental aspects. Many included detailed technical analysis of the bill’s clauses & their implications, and represented a significant investment of time & expertise by submitters.

“Resource users such as Fonterra, quarry operators, and infrastructure operators such as airports made similar points in opposition as environmental interests such as Fish & Game NZ, the Environmental Defence Society, and Forest & Bird.

“Federated Farmers, for example, described the proposed ministerial regulation-making powers as ‘excessive’ and the provisions which allow central government to intervene directly in local council plans as ‘heavy-handed’.

“Sir Geoffrey Palmer, presenting evidence for Fish & Game, described the regulation-making powers which would override the provisions of regional & district plans as a ‘constitutional outrage’. ‘Due process is replaced by executive fiat.’”

The Green Party said the bill’s changes put executive power & individual property rights ahead of community & environmental wellbeing: “They insert new processes for national direction, plan-making, consideration of land-use & other activities and public notification ,while previous changes in 2013 are still bedding in. The changes emphasise fast decision-making ahead of good outcomes. “The bill is likely to make the RMA & its implementation more complex & litigious, and increase costs for councils & users of the act.

“Limits on rights to appeal council decisions to the Environment Court restrict access to justice and the court’s ability to be a guardian of the RMA’s purpose of sustainable management and a check on poor decision-making.”

The Greens’ submission continued with extensive detail on the committee process, ministerial powers, national direction & plan-making before traversing more ideological issues such as public participation, the permissive approach to subdivision & residential activities, fast-track consenting, and the other acts of Parliament affected by the proposed amendment.

The party’s minority view concluded: “The bill is not fit for purpose. It significantly increases ministerial powers while removing or restricting basic rights of public participation. It will expedite development activities with few environmental safeguards and scant consideration of sustainable management. The bill puts private rights & development ahead of the public interest and environmental & community wellbeing. It should not proceed.”

Select committee’s commentary and the revised bill
Nick Smith booklet, 26 November 2015: The second phase of Resource Management Act reform

Related story today:
RMA reform bill scrapes through second reading

Earlier stories:
6 March 2017: RMA amendment back for second reading
10 November 2016: National gets Maori agreement to advance RMA reforms
14 March 2016: Council says Government approach wrong on resource management reform
27 November 2015: RMA reform introduced

Attribution: Ministerial & opposition releases, select committee report.

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RMA reform bill scrapes through second reading

The latest Resource Management Act reform bill – title, the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill – scraped through its second reading in Parliament yesterday by a 2-vote majority, 61-59.

Labour, the Greens, NZ First, David Seymour (Act) & Peter Dunne (United Future) all opposed it this time. At the first reading, Labour supported the bill’s introduction and NZ First abstained.

Building, Construction & Environment Minister Nick Smith introduced the reform to Parliament on 26 November 2015 and it had its first reading 7 days later. The local government & environment select committee reported it back to Parliament on 6 March.

Dr Smith said the intent was “to improve environmental management, help increase housing supply & affordability and support jobs & growth”.

He told Parliament: “The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill is the largest package of reforms to the Resource Management Act since it was first passed 25 years ago. It contains 40 proposals that make significant changes to 5 different acts.

“This reform is critical to addressing housing supply & affordability by making it easier, faster & less costly to create new sections. Section prices in Auckland have gone from $100,000 in 1990 to $530,000 today and are the core reason housing has become excessively expensive.

“It addresses this core issue by opening up land supply, reducing the time taken to get consents, reducing the cost of land subdivision and enabling the construction of infrastructure. Parties that are opposing this bill are blocking the very changes that will make housing more affordable.”

On the Maori Party’s agreement to support the bill, Dr Smith said: “The Maori Party has supported the bill to this stage, and we are continuing to work with them to ensure detailed changes as a result of the select committee process are consistent with their agreement with the Government. I will be meeting with the Maori Party co-leaders on ensuring we have got the detail right.”

“This second phase of the Government’s RMA reforms builds on the first, and will support the additional jobs, infrastructure & housing needed for a strongly growing & successful economy.”

Select committee’s commentary and the revised bill
Nick Smith booklet, 26 November 2015: The second phase of Resource Management Act reform

Related story today:
Bill opponents talk “shambles”, not ideology

Earlier stories:
6 March 2017: RMA amendment back for second reading
10 November 2016: National gets Maori agreement to advance RMA reforms
14 March 2016: Council says Government approach wrong on resource management reform
27 November 2015: RMA reform introduced

Attribution: Ministerial & opposition releases, select committee report.

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RMA amendment back for second reading

Parliament’s local government & environment committee reported back on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill today, and Environment Minister Nick Smith said it would go to a second reading this week.

Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage described the bill as “a charter for property developers with its permissive approach to subdivision. It encourages urban sprawl, ad hoc subdivision & development with little consideration of the impacts on neighbours, streams, beaches, transport & infrastructure provision.”

But Dr Smith said the amendment would “improve New Zealand’s environmental management, helps increase the supply & affordability of housing and supports jobs & growth. It contains 40 proposals that make significant changes to 5 different acts and is the most comprehensive package of reform to the Resource Management Act since its inception 25 years ago.”

It’s in the second phase of the Government’s resource management reforms, and has 12 significant provisions:

  • National planning standards to reduce complexity & cost
  • Streamlined planning process to improve responsiveness
  • Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents
  • Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
  • New 10-day consent category for minor activities
  • New requirements for councils to free up land for housing
  • New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways
  • New provisions requiring decommissioning plans for offshore platforms
  • More generous compensation for land required for public works
  • Better alignment with other acts like Reserves, Conservation & the exclusive economic zone beyond New Zealand’s shores
  • Collaborative planning process to encourage community-led solutions, and
  • Improved Maori participation arrangements.

Dr Smith said the Maori Party had reached agreement with the Government to support the bill through all remaining stages in Parliament following detailed consideration of the initial policy and the inclusion of proposed changes to strengthen the original iwi participation agreement.

”The mana whakahono a rohe/iwi participation agreement provides a better framework for councils to meet their existing obligations to consult with local iwi. Many councils already have these agreements through Treaty settlements or good practice. The Government supports these provisions because we want iwi involved in how natural resources are managed and because formalising the process will help achieve better outcomes with less delays & costs.

“This is a huge bill and the Maori Party was not a member of the select committee. They need time to digest all of the select committee’s detailed changes to ensure they are consistent with their agreement with the Government. I will be meeting with the Maori Party co-leaders on ensuring we have got the detail right.”

Report on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (101-2) [PDF 1469k]
Resource Legislation Amendment Bill

Attribution: Ministerial & Green releases.

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New telecom facility standards introduced

Communications Minister Amy Adams & Environment Minister Nick Smith announced the new national environmental standard for telecommunications facilities under the Resource Management Act on Friday.

One part of it takes control of consenting for frequently deployed infrastructure such as small cell units, street cabinets, light pole antennas & cabling out of the domain of local councils from 1 January 2017 if it meets the national standard.

Dr Smith said: “This national standard will save consumers & ratepayers millions of dollars and is part of our broader package of RMA reforms that take a more nationally consistent approach to environmental regulation.”

He said the new standard would make it easier & cheaper to install the infrastructure consumers need to access broadband under the Government’s ultra-fast broadband programme, rural broadband Initiative & 4G network deployment: “It does not change the radio frequency exposure standards. All new telecommunications infrastructure will continue to need to comply with current standards referenced in the national environmental standard, and which are based on international best practice.”

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities) Regulations 2016
Examples of telecommunications facilities no longer requiring a resource consent under new NES.pdf (pdf 280.84 KB)

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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National gets Maori agreement to advance RMA reforms

The National majority in the Government and its Maori Party partners have reached agreement on policy issues in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. Environment Minister Nick Smith said yesterday this would enable the bill to pass its second & third readings.

Dr Smith said: “This legislation is critical to the Government’s programme of improving New Zealand’s environmental management, increasing the supply & affordability of housing and supporting economic growth. This is the most comprehensive package of reform to the Resource Management Act since its inception 25 years ago, and it is welcome news that we have the parliamentary support to put these 40 changes into law.”

He listed the 12 major provisions in the bill, which is part of the second phase of the Government’s resource management reforms:

  • National planning standards to reduce complexity & cost
  • Streamlined planning process to improve responsiveness
  • Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents
  • Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
  • New 10-day consent category for minor activities
  • New requirements for council to free up land for housing
  • New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways
  • New provisions requiring decommissioning plans for offshore platforms
  • More generous compensation for land required for public works
  • Better alignment with other acts like Reserves, Conservation & Exclusive Economic Zone
  • Collaborative planning process to encourage community-led solutions, and
  • Improved Maori participation arrangements.

“The Maori Party has strongly advocated for improved iwi participation. This has been achieved through including the mana whakahono a rohe/iwi participation arrangement in the bill. This enables iwi & councils to enter into agreements on how iwi can be involved in resource management processes, so as to ensure their perspective is heard & understood. Many councils already have these agreements through Treaty settlements or good practice. The Government supports these provisions because we want iwi involved in how natural resources are managed and because formalising the process will help achieve better outcomes with less delays & costs.”

The Government first proposed the reforms in the bill in 2013, but couldn’t advance them when it couldn’t secure enough parliamentary support. National introduced a revised bill without the controversial changes to the purpose of the act last December, with the support of the Maori Party for the first reading but subject to further discussion on significant issues such as the iwi participation arrangements.

Submissions were heard on the bill from April to June, and the select committee received 2 departmental reports – one in August and the latest last week. Opposition parties refused an extension last week of the select committee report-back date beyond 7 November, so it was reported pro forma. The Government will refer the bill back to the select committee again today.

Dr Smith said: “The select committee has a major task ahead to work through the 500-page departmental report and refine the drafting of the bill. The Government wants to advance the legislation as quickly as possible, but this is an area of law where getting the detail right is particularly important. It may be completed this year, but may flow into early next year. We will also need to consult with the Maori Party on the detailed drafting when the bill is reported back to Parliament to ensure it is consistent with the agreed policy.”

Resource Legislation Amendment Bill Q&As.pdf (pdf 298.25 KB)

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Topographic map changes proposed

Land Information NZ (LINZ) put its proposed changes to the price of its paper topographic maps and the way they’re printed out for public consultation yesterday. Submissions close on Monday 28 November.

The Government organisation said: “Paper maps are still an important product for us, but with more people using digital maps we don’t sell as many as we used to. This means the price we charge no longer reflects the costs of producing them, especially as wholesale prices were last changed in 2009.”

Potential price increases range from $3.30-6.80.

Land Information NZ is also proposing to make greater use of other printing methods, printing fewer maps at a time so they’re more up to date. It produces topographic maps of New Zealand, offshore islands and Pacific & Antarctic regions.

Link: Map change consultation

Attribution: LINZ, ministerial release.

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Minister says monitoring report highlights need for further RMA reform

Environment Minister Nick Smith said yesterday release of the Resource Management Act national monitoring system data highlighted the need for reform of the act. The image above is a slice of the monitoring report infographic.

“This monitoring report highlights how slow our planning system is, with the average time for a council plan taking more than 8 years and for a council plan change 4 years. This cumbersome process means councils cannot respond to changing society needs such as the sharp shift in housing demand from the lull of 2010 to the boom of 2015.

“It is crucial to resolving issues like housing that we have a far more responsive planning system. The Government’s second phase of Resource Management Act reform, currently before Parliament, provides the option for councils to adopt a streamlined planning process which will enable councils to achieve plan changes in 6 months.”

Dr Smith said the 2015 national monitoring system data & a new online tool opened up access to Resource Management Act statistics for the first time: “The data will help the Ministry for the Environment see which parts of the act processes are causing delays, where inconsistency in council practices is a problem, and identify best practice. For the first time, the ministry has detailed information on more than 42,000 resource consent applications & 359 plan-making processes.

“This new, open reporting on the Resource Management Act, alongside the Government’s legislative reforms, also helps improve performance. Councils & communities need to compare their performance around environmental compliance & costs of processing this for plans & consents and help drive better practice.”

Dr Smith said changes in the Government’s first phase of Resource Management Act reforms had improved processing: “We’ve seen the number of late consents drop from 16,017 in 2007-08 to 1260 in 2014-15. We still have some issues with the efficiency of consent processing, with 19% requiring time extensions and 32% further information requests. More than 360 consents received a discount on their consent costs of [a total] $457,321 where councils did not meet statutory timeframes for processing.

“I am also encouraged by the increased levels of compliance with resource consent conditions, with 88% of those monitored being compliant. We still have more work to do in ensuring the act delivers good outcomes for the environment while minimising the restrictions & costs on businesses & homeowners.

“There is also work to do to reduce processing costs of $76 million for the 40,000-plus annual resource consents. There are significant savings to be made from reducing the number of notified consents, which cost 5 times those of non-notified. Even the average $1929 bill for a non-notified consent can be excessive when it involves a minor change in boundary or height rules. The proposal to enable councils to waive the requirement for some consents over many minor issues would be a relief to homeowners, where the consent cost can exceed the building cost. There are also significant benefits for the environment and costs of the Resource Management Act with greater use of national standards.”

NMS Infographic.pdf (pdf 198.29 KB)
Environment Ministry, RMA reporting

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Take another look

There has been a lot of noise in the last fortnight about how, suddenly, overnight, to solve problems which have been festering for decades.

They’ve been festering because of an unwillingness – and an ignorance – about how to run a country, a province, a region, a city.

The solutions need to be long-term, derived from serious, considered thought & debate. And to be long-term, they will take time to piece together.

Finance solutions

One of the oddest “solutions” to anybody’s problems, to me, has been the immense & widespread desire for the Reserve Bank to keep cutting interest rates. Sure, everybody wants to pay less interest, but even the Reserve Bank has recognised that in taking this step it has helped push property prices higher. Buyers of houses borrow to the max, and a lower interest rate means the house price can be higher.

The housing minister can point proudly at the growth of new housing, in dollar terms. But who stops to consider why billions of extra dollars are being spent on housing because of an artificial inflation?

This affects other parts of the economy, so other solutions ought to be considered, but the interest rate cut is the choice that’s been taken.

It’s not just residential property, either. The best way to assess pricing on commercial property is by the yields, and 5% is now a benchmark, yields in the 4% range are occurring more frequently, double digits now a universe away.

Land supply

Auckland Council stands accused of multiples crimes it hasn’t committed.

The first is to create a shortage of appropriately zoned & serviced land for both residential & business development. The shortage has been decades in its creation, by predecessors of this council, using the 25-year-old Resource Management Act in the opposite way to that intended. It was to have been enabling, it’s been used to restrict.

In the near-6 years of the super-city, Auckland has had a welter of plans produced and the most important of these, the unitary plan, is nearing fruition.

This government decided the form the super-city council would take, set timeframes for certain actions and required the unitary plan to be written by this year. The independent panel that heard submissions on the plan the council proposed 3 years ago will deliver its recommendations back to the council on 22 July and the council will make its decisions on those recommendations before the October local body elections.

The outcome will include a serious attempt at consistent zoning, measures to provide for the provision of a future supply of appropriately zoned land – not just for the next few months, but a formula to stick by as population growth rises & falls over decades – and measures to retain rural land.

One of the failings of many critics of inadequate land supply for housing is to see rural land as vacant, available whenever the urban need occurs, to be taken on a whim. From the other side of the fence, where the cow or the sheep stands or the crab or the fish swims, the bulldozer is not a friend, not a creator, but a destroyer.

Threats to enforce thoughtless land supply, without considering effects, should be treated with the scorn they deserve.

Completion of the unitary plan won’t mean the automatic & immediate opening up of vast tracts of land for housing – large areas may be rezoned, but owners still have to want to use that new zoning.


Provision of infrastructure such as sewers & water supply, and of adequate access, has been poorly delivered throughout New Zealand for many decades. Auckland has areas where flooding and the mixing of storm- & wastewater have long been issues but are now, gradually, being addressed.

Because these services are underground & unseen, nobody ever seems to worry that they might be inadequate. Funding of the fix is therefore always slow – but under this council it’s been re-examined, sped up, though still too slow, and that’s in areas already developed.

Suddenly, it’s wise to fling houses into paddocks wherever, to link them to all infrastructure even though doing so will be highly uneconomic & highly inefficient.

“Public sector can’t perform”

It’s common for critics to dismiss the performance of the public sector – first, because the public sector cannot perform as well as the private sector, and second because people who work in the public sector are slow-minded deadbeats.

Anybody with half a brain would know both of those criticisms are nonsense but, said often enough and with enough venom, they stick.

Much public sector performance can be criticised, questioned – but not for being public. Think Singapore for an answer. Large corporates have their deadbeats too. The solution is to work towards improving the performance, rationally & with shared goals in mind.


An issue important to many questions of concern is access – important to housing, to affordability, to business, for residents to reach shops & amenities & jobs. Forget, for the moment, the mode of getting there, think instead of where you want to go and where you’re likely to want to go in 10 years.

One solution to housing supply is to provide greenfield land – those large tracts of “vacant” land, unused except for agricultural production.

For 30 years the mantra has been to centralise, to grow main centres, to turn small towns into villages, to take away job opportunities locally.

Yet New Zealand can never compete as a high volume producer of manufactured goods – for supply internationally or against imported supply. It is a country made for small business, for ingenuity, for adding value instead of supplying bulk.

To that end we should be able to live pretty much anywhere, and therefore small communities should be able to thrive. We should be well advanced in providing novel infrastructure solutions for such small communities, and therefore for out-of-the-way developments which, at the same time, have enough infrastructure to be a community. What is seen as the solution, though, is bulk greenfield supply with transport – access – solutions a poor second.


My comments above from seeing many lines thrown away recently on how those in charge of solutions are doing poorly, and what better solutions there are.

Transport is one of those areas – the city rail link is maybe good for the central business district but not for anywhere else, and everyone else is paying for it; Auckland Transport does absolutely nothing right, although it’s been presenting a new look to access around the region; Auckland is in housing crisis and nothing is being done to fix that, although there are many steps being taken – the shift of many elderly into retirement villages and freeing up existing homes is one, development of apartments & townhouses in suburban centres is another, and many small building companies are producing a growing supply of homes.

From this commentary I’ve provided 4 links below. One is to a column by economist Rodney Dickens, managing director & chief research officer of Strategic Risk Analysis Ltd, who questions the policy on interest rates and its effects on both the productive economy & the housing market.

The second is to Market Economics Ltd founder Doug Fairgray’s comments in an article in his company newsletter on housing affordability.

Dr Fairgray led Auckland Council’s economic analysis for the council’s submissions on the unitary plan. He has plenty of critics, especially for his work on calculating the availability of land supply, and therefore the capacity for urban Auckland to grow.

The third is Auckland Transport’s latest update on work being done in the eastern suburbs to improve access, and the fourth is to Auckland Transport’s overall projects & roadworks section.

The misguided OCR cuts pose a range of opportunities and threats
Auckland housing affordability
Auckland Transport, Ameti – eastern suburbs projects
Auckland Transport, projects & roadworks

Attribution: Commentary.

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Council says Government approach wrong on resource management reform

Auckland Council has told the Government it’s taking the wrong approach to improving resource management law by extending central government decision-making into local processes.

The council submission, endorsed by its Auckland development committee on Thursday, opposes numerous points where the Government is proposing not just to have an overview but to have a say in decisions, right down to zoning.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament in December and submissions on it close today. Most of the amendment proposed in the bill would be to the Resource Management Act, and that’s what the council submission has focused on. Other affected laws are the Reserves Act, Public Works Act, Conservation Act and Exclusive Economic Zone & Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act.

Key points the Auckland Council submission makes:

  • The Government has a number of related initiatives underway; this one should be deferred pending a full review of the planning system, starting after work on the wider reform programme has been completed, so end of 2017-beginning of 2018
  • The council would support a wider review of the planning system that looks at how best to achieve integrated outcomes – including funding – as opposed to ongoing ad
  • hoc amendments
  • Many proposed amendments would impose additional costs on local bodies, and there’s no accompanying analysis
  • Effective iwi engagement is more the result of strong relationships supported by good practice than legislative requirements
  • The Government’s approach to Maori involvement in hearings is over-complicated & less appropriate than the current council system; instead, the Government should invest in building capacity in tikanga Maori.

The council says in its submission a number of amendments expand ministerial powers to the extent of determining plan content or giving the minister other decision-making powers: “These will diminish local decision-making.”

On timing & order of reform, the council says: “There are a number of inter-related planning & urban management initiatives amongst the Government’s wider reform programme. Foremost, the Government has instructed the Productivity Commission to inquire into the system of urban planning, which could result in a fundamental review of the Resource Management Act. In addition, work is proceeding to develop a national policy statement on urban development, which will include content addressing ‘development capacity’.

“Auckland Council is concerned that amendments to the Resource Management Act at this time amount to tinkering in the face of significant issues being considered in the Government’s wider reform programme. The proposed amendments may enact new Resource Management Act provisions before the issues are fully understood & resolved in a co-ordinated manner, with implications for the coherency of the planning framework & the wider reform programme.”

The council says it would support guidance being provided under the Resource Management Act through instruments such as national policy statements & national environmental standards: “At issue, however, is the extent to which the proposed amendments extend beyond the provision of guidance and enable methods, rules & plan content, such as the zoning of particular land, to be determined by the minister.

“The council supports a ministerial oversight role that focuses ministerial attention on the operation of the overall planning system & the provision of guidance. Auckland Council opposes provisions that erode local decision-making and provide for ministerial decision-making power on plans.”

Understandably, the council supports making processes more efficient, but it says the Government has got that wrong too: “The council supports the aim of making processes under the Resource Management Act more efficient. This can be achieved by making processes more proportionate or by supporting established, good practice. Auckland Council contends, however, that the proposed amendments will increase processing & cost. The council proposes that the district plan could clarify the kinds of circumstances that would require notification of resource consents as an alternative to the bill’s proposed amendments.

“An amendment in the bill would require that submissions to resource consents & plan changes are struck out if they do not pass prescribed tests. The council proposes that this amendment is opposed.”

On the role of iwi, the council says it wants to maintain the relationship-based approach it has established with the Independent Maori Statutory Board and Auckland’s 19 iwi. It supports the appointment of hearings commissioners with expertise in tikanga Maori, but suggests its own approach of appointing, with Independent Maori Statutory Board involvement, a pool of independent planning commissioners (including those with tikanga Maori expertise) “is more appropriate than consulting with iwi on planning commissioners every time a hearing is held. Auckland Council would like to see the Government’s intention matched with investment to build capacity in tikanga Maori.”

Links: Productivity Commission, urban planning inquiry
Council committee agenda

Earlier stories:

9 March 2016: Kaipatiki board tells Government to get on with fundamental tasks
11 December 2015: Planning system is next Productivity Commission target
5 October 2015: Commission sends land for housing report to Government
10 August 2015: Council has forthright message for Government on land for housing
19 June 2015: Key points from land for housing report
19 June 2015: Commission looks behind high land prices

Attribution: Submission & presentation.

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Volcanic cones management plan open to submissions

The Tupuna Maunga Authority opened its proposed integrated management plan for 14 volcanic cones around Auckland to public submissions yesterday. Submissions close on Friday 29 April.

The authority was set up to manage Auckland’s tupuna maunga (ancestral mountains), or volcanic cones, after 14 of them were returned to Nga Mana Whenua o Tamaki Makaurau (the 13 mana whenua tribes of Auckland) in 2014 under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Authority chair Paul Majurey said the integrated management plan would set the foundations for how the tupuna maunga would be valued, restored, protected & enhanced.

He said the tupuna maunga represented some of the most significant cultural, historical & geological landscapes in the region and a unified & cohesive approach for their care was needed.

“The tupuna maunga are sacred to mana whenua as taonga tuku iho (treasures handed down the generations). The future of each of these significant places needs to be planned with equal consideration & reverence.

“Mana whenua world views & priorities are woven through the proposed integrated management plan, and complementing this are the strong living connections that the local communities have with these special places. All Aucklanders draw a sense of identity from the tupuna maunga and we want to ensure the integrated management plan captures that unity.”

The 14 returned tupuna maunga are:

Matukutururu/Wiri Mountain
Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill
Maungarei/Mt Wellington
Maungauika/North Head
Maungawhau/Mt Eden
Ohinerau/Mt Hobson
Ohuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain
Otahuhu/Mt Richmond
Owairaka/Te Ahi-ka-a-Rakataura/Mt Albert
Puketapapa/Pukewiwi/Mt Roskill
Rarotonga/Mt Smart
Takarunga/Mt Victoria
Te Kopuke/Tītikopuke/Mt St John
Te Tatua a Riukiuta/Big King

Also included are the administered lands on Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill and Te Ara Puera/Te Pane-o-Mataaho/ Mangere Mountain.

Image: Maungawhau/Mt Eden in the foreground.

Link: Tupuna Maunga Authority

Attribution: Authority release.

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