Legal Framework for District Plans

Councils are required to ensure district plans meets the requirements of a range of local, regional and national plans, policies and strategies.

Resource Management Act 1991

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) is the key legislation that sets out how we should manage our environment. The RMA is based on the principle of sustainable management which involves considering effects of activities on the environment now and into the future. It also ensures the importance of Te Tiriti O Waitangi partnerships when managing our environment. 

Sustainable management involves managing the air, soil, fresh water, and coastal marine areas, and regulating land use and subdivision, for today and future generations. It also has a broader role in the appropriate provision of infrastructure like stormwater pipes, roading, and waste management.

The RMA provides for national direction on significant issues, through National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards. It also directs all Territorial Authorities’ to have a district plan.

The district plan allows communities to make decisions on how their own local environment is managed. The RMA allows for permissions to be granted (resource consents) where an activity does not comply with the district plan.

National Policy Statements (NPS)

NPS are an instrument that state objectives and policies for matters of national significance.

The purpose of NPS is to provide National consistency across Regional Councils and Territorial Authorities while allowing flexibility in how they are given affect to.

All National Policy Statements can be found on the Ministry for the Environment Website.

National Environmental Standards (NES)

A NES prescribes the standards for an environmental matter. This is to ensure that a consistent standard for an activity or resource is applied by all Councils.

A NES can prescribe technical and non-technical standards, methods or other requirements for land use and subdivision. All councils’ must give effect to the NES. In some circumstances where specified in a NES, Councils can impose stricter or more lenient standards.

All National Environmental Standards can be found on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement

The NZCPS is a NPS under the RMA. The purpose of the NZCPS is to promote policies to achieve the purpose of the RMA in relation to the coastal environment. Like the NPS, the district plan must “give effect” to the NZCPS

The Department of Conservation is directed to provide the NZCPS while other NPS and NES are provided by the Ministry for the Environment.

The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement can be found on the Department of Conservation website.

National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land

The National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land came into effect on 17 October 2022. It has been prepared by Central Government and introduces additional controls to the Kaipara District Operative District Plan 2013, in relation to the subdivision and development of highly productive land (Land Use Class 1 to 3 soils) in the Rural zone. It is intended to preserve productive land for future generations. Kaipara District Council is obliged to implement it when assessing certain types of land use and subdivision consents and in preparing the Proposed District Plan (to be notified in mid-2023) and any Private Plan Changes lodged with Council.

Soil classification maps are available from Manaaki Whenua (Land Research). These maps will be eventually replaced by Northland Regional Council mapping to be completed by 2025. 

View a list of New Zealand Soil Science Professionals.

Additional guidance from the Ministry of Environment is also available from their website.

Regional Policy Statement and Plans

The RMA directs regional councils to have a Regional Policy Statement and provides a framework for regional plans. A Regional Policy Statement (RPS) is the key document for identifying issues related to the development, use and protection of resources in a region. A regional plan gives effect to the Regional Policy Statement through the provision of rules and environmental outcomes.

The RPS for Northland establishes the integrated resource management framework which the Kaipara District Council’s Operative District Plan must give effect to and not be inconsistent with. This approach allows for consistency of resource management when dealing with issues that may cross our neighbouring councils such as landscapes, which may not follow local government boundaries.

The current Regional Policy Statement for Northland 2016 can be found on the Northland Regional Council website.

Regional plans can cover issues within the functions of the regional council, including:

  • soil conservation
  • water quality and quantity
  • aquatic ecosystems
  • biodiversity
  • natural hazards
  • discharge of contaminants
  • allocation of natural resources

The Northland Regional Plan can be found on the Northland Regional Council website.

Natural Hazards

Northland Regional Council has developed natural hazards maps that assist in current council decision-making processes as well as informing our planning activities:

  • Coastal Hazard Zones 
  • River Flood Hazard Zones
  • Land Hazard Zones
  • Tsunami Hazard Zones