Approaches to Manage Issues

District and regional plans currently apply a variety of approaches to managing the issues associated with the wine industry, often using different techniques for different aspects of winegrowing. These variations are often due to such factors as its influence on the social history of a local community (eg, the length of time the industry has been there), climate, topography, geology, ecology, landscape and infrastructure.

While plans focus on regulatory measures such as objectives, policies and methods, various non-regulatory measures can be, and are, used in conjunction with plan provisions. There are also a number of non-regulatory mechanisms specific to the wine industry that can be used in conjunction with planning mechanisms or included within existing regulatory frameworks.

The New Zealand Winegrowers Background Issues Paper (PDF 329 KB) also includes a range of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches used by local authorities to manage the effects of wine growing.

Regulatory approaches

Objectives and policies

Current district plans generally rely on one of the following approaches to manage the identified winegrowing-related issues:

  • Special area identified within the district plan along with a separate chapter that includes specific issues, objectives and policies

This approach has the potential to work well in areas with an extensive wine industry or clusters of winegrowing activities. The concept of identifying and providing for special-character areas may be particularly useful in light of the complex and often unique scale of the issues facing the wine industry, including vertical integration and reverse sensitivity. Matters that should be considered include the scale of existing operations in the area and whether a special area is required to manage the effects of these operations on competing rural uses and vice versa.

For an example of this approach, refer to the Te Mata Special Character Zone in the Hastings District Plan. (PDF 190 KB) This approach recognises the importance of established winegrowing activities and makes specific provision for the separation of viticulture and rural residential development.

  • Reference to winegrowing through generic objectives, policies and methods

This approach recognises the diversity of an area and the range of activities that contribute to its environment and economy. However, in areas where winegrowing is a major industry it may give insufficient weight to the nature and scale of industry effects and the methods needed to manage them. Depending on the scale of the wine industry in a particular city or district, it may also be too general and provide insufficient direction to effectively address local resource management issues relevant to the wine industry.

An example of how this approach could be applied would be to incorporate a number of objectives, policies and methods specific to winegrowing into the plan provisions that relate to the rural areas within a city, district or region.

For example, the Wairarapa Combined District Plan includes a Rural (Special) Zone within the Rural Area (section 4). This zone covers those areas where intensive viticultural and horticultural activities are facing pressure from sporadic urban growth, particularly residential development. The purpose of the zone is to recognise that unplanned residential intensification is generally inappropriate in these parts of the rural environment, and that development limitations may need to be imposed to avoid future problems. The Rural Zone (PDF 83 KB) (and Plains Zone (PDF 875 KB)) of the Hastings District Plan also recognises that many intensive horticultural, viticultural and agricultural activities may be suitable within its rural areas. The district plan states that activities establishing in the Rural Zone (and Plains Zone) need to recognise existing, accepted amenity levels, which reflect the effects of the operation of existing activities in adjacent zones.


A number of district and regional plans include rules to manage the effects of the wine industry, but often in conjunction with voluntary and industry-based Codes of Practice and other methods. These are usually applied on either a district/region, or a catchment/special area basis, and establish the status and thresholds of activities associated with the industry.

The status and thresholds that an activity may trigger are dependent on such factors as:

  • Whether the proposed activity is provided for in the district or regional plan
    This depends on how it is defined in the plan. For example, the Hurunui District Plan permits all farming activities within the rural area, subject to satisfying the relevant permitted activity standards. Viticulture is specifically included within the definition of farming activities.
  • The scale of the proposed activity
    For example, in the Rural 3 and 4 Zones of the Wairau/Awatere Resource Management Plan, the permitted maximum building height is 10m (rule and all buildings have to comply with a specified sunlight access plane (rule Permitted activity standards also set minimum front, side and rear yards (rule, and restrict the area of a site that may be covered in permanent buildings to a maximum of 15% (rule Where these standards are not complied with the activity becomes a limited discretionary activity.
  • The location of the proposed activity
    For example, within the Gibbston Character Zone the Queenstown Lake District Plan provides for retail sales, including retail sales of wine from a winery or vineyard, as a controlled activity subject to meeting the relevant permitted activity standards (rule Matters for control are limited to the layout of the site, the location of buildings, vehicle access and car parking. Wineries themselves are a controlled activity, but with no matters specifically listed for control. All other commercial activities, including restaurants and retail sales not directly associated with a winery or vineyard, are a discretionary activity. Also, in the Plains Zone (PDF 875 KB) (and Rural Zone (PDF 83 KB)) of the Hastings District Plan, wineries are permitted, subject to meeting relevant permitted activity standards (rule 6.7.1 and 5.7.1).

A standards-driven approach is usually associated with permitted activities, whereas a qualitative approach is generally applied to discretionary activities. However, plans may also include quantifiable outcomes within discretionary provisions, to provide guidance as to what outcomes are acceptable or unacceptable. The suitability of a proposed activity is often assessed by looking at the nature of existing activities in the vicinity and determining whether any restrictions on the proposed activity are required to avoid or minimise reverse sensitivity issues. However, in some instances it may be entirely inappropriate for the proposed activity to be located in close proximity to existing operations. In such situations, incompatibilities between the existing and proposed activities may mean that resource consent is denied.

District plans have traditionally relied on various permitted activity standards to control development and activities. This situation is changing with some plans now placing greater reliance on discretionary processes.

In making this shift, district plans will need to provide greater direction through their objectives and policies, including developing clear guidance about what qualities and values are important, and the pattern of activity that is anticipated (eg, the acceptability of non-rural activities in rural zones).

For example, policies and assessment criteria outlining the development qualities sought in an area could be used to manage the effects of winegrowing developments where multiple land uses are proposed on the same site. Key considerations could include such factors as urban design, layout and setbacks. The Te Mata Special Character Area (PDF 190 KB) in the Hastings District Plan, for instance, includes policies and assessment criteria that relate to commercial activities that are dependent on rural resources such as winegrowing. Where a resource consent application for such an activity is lodged, the council will consider, amongst other matters, the benefits to the district that could be derived from its tourist potential.

Resource consent applications

Resource consent applications should include the information outlined in Schedule 4 of the RMA. District and regional plans may also contain information requirements for resource consent applications. The Wairarapa Combined District Plan contains a detailed section on the information requirements for resource consent applications depending on the activity status and nature of the proposal (section 26). For example, a resource consent application for winegrowing operations needs to include details of hazardous substances to be used and stored on-site, including those to be used for spraying purposes. A resource consent application for an ancillary winegrowing operation should include a traffic report assessing the potential carparking demand arising from the proposed activity.

For examples of the information included in resource consent applications involving the wine industry, relevant councils should be contacted.

Resource consent conditions

Once a resource consent has been granted, its conditions determine how a proposed activity is managed and controlled over time. For example, conditions of consent for winegrowing could include controls on the operation of crop protection devices; conditions for ancillary operations could cover carparking requirements and hours of operation. Concerns regarding reverse sensitivity can result in more restrictive resource consent conditions for new, potentially sensitive, activities. In relation to a proposed subdivision, conditions could relate to the permitted density of subdivision, size of allotments, nominated building platforms, and minimum buffer distances from boundaries. No complaints covenants are frequently included by Councils as conditions of resource consents where this has been agreed to by the relevant parties. The resource consent will either require the parties to enter into a no complaints covenant or may contain the full text of the covenant to be entered into. For further discussion, refer to the guidance note on Resource consent conditions and the Ministry for the Environment’s publication on Effective and Enforceable Consent Conditions (June 2001).

For examples of consent conditions with no complaints covenants, refer to the examples from the following councils:

Hastings District Council – Decision relating to an application for land use consent (PDF 33 KB)
Published by Hastings District Council - June 2006
Decision relating to a notified application for land use consent. Provides example of the use of no complaints covenants within resource consent conditions.

Rodney District Council – Resource Consents Hearings Panel (PDF 75 KB)
Published by Rodney District Council - April 2005
Minutes of a meeting of the Resource Consents Hearings Panel. Provides example of the use of no complaints covenants within resource consent conditions.

For examples of consent conditions, refer to:

Hurunui District Council – Decision relating to application for land-use consent frost fan (S Berry) (PDF 224KB)
Published by Hurunui District Council – September 2012
Decision relating to a non notified application for land use consent to erect a frost control fan.

Hastings District Council – Decision relating to application for land-use consent (Te Awanga) (PDF 60KB)
Published by Hastings District Council – June 2005
Decision relating to a notified application for land use consent to establish a winery, restaurant, retail sales, offices and apartments.

Hastings District Council – Decision relating to an application for land use consent (PDF 1.75MB) 
Published by Hastings District Council - March 2011
Decision relating to a limited notified application for land use consent to establish a winery of a scale larger than that permitted by the District Plan. Provides example of the use of landscaping and amenity conditions within resource consent conditions.

Hurunui District Council – Decision relating to application for land-use consent cafe (PDF 275KB)
Published by Hurunui District Council May 2012
Decision relating to a limited notified basis for land-use consent for cellar door and cafe operation. Provides example of the use of access and stormwater conditions within resource consent conditions

Tasman District Council: Report and Discussion of the Hearings Commissioner D W Collins, under authority delegated by the Tasman District Council (PDF 146 KB)
Published by Tasman District Council - December 2006
Hearing report for application lodged by Kaimira Ventures Ltd relating to a proposed winery with a “Cellar Door” retail outlet and associated discharge and water use permit.

Non-regulatory approaches

Non-regulatory mechanisms for managing the effects of the wine industry include a range of techniques.

Non-regulatory tools are often used to support and extend district or regional plan approaches (eg, as a method to implement objectives and policies), or to help guide and explain plan provisions (eg, GROWSAFE Code of Practice in the New Zealand Standard NZS8409:2004 Management of Agrichemicals (PDF 135 KB)). They are also developed and used by the wine industry itself to inform and improve practice (eg, Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand) and the Rural and Agricultural Aviation Industry generally; refer to this guidance note fro more information.

Many non-regulatory tools, such as design guides and industry guidelines, have limited legal weight in the development assessment process, although they may be relevant in assessing consent applications. However, councils are increasingly incorporating such tools into their resource management planning framework by specifically referring to them in the objectives, policies and methods of implementation. For example, in the Rural Zone, the Hastings District Plan (PDF 83 KB) specifically identifies the use of industry codes of practice as a method of implementing objectives and policies, and can be used as a guideline for setting consent conditions (section 5.5).

Useful non-regulatory tools that could be referred to in district or regional plans include:

Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand
This is a voluntary initiative introduced by New Zealand Winegrowers. The programme provides a framework to assist winegrowers in improving all aspects of their operational performance in terms of environmental, social and economic sustainability. It also provides a 'best practice' model for vineyard and winery operations and gives a high-level assurance that sustainable practices have been used. Sustainable winegrowing has an annual independent audit of all members.

New Zealand Winegrowers have taken a strong stance on sustainability in the industry and aim for New Zealand wine to be 100% sustainable by 2012. Accreditation in the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand programme or other recognised equivalents has been made a pre-requisite for participating in New Zealand Winegrowers events and activities. It is estimated that 95% of the producing vineyard area is now participating in the programme. It is estimated that 3 to 5% of the national vineyard is currently producing under certified organic practices.

New Zealand Management of Waste By-Products Code of Practice for Wineries
This code provides guidance to winemakers on cleaner production and sound environmental practices including waste management and disposal.

Growsafe requirements
Growsafe offers accreditation programmes to help agrichemical users adhere to the requirements of New Zealand Standard NZS 8409:2004 Management of Agrichemicals (PDF 135 KB). This is the recognised industry standard for primary producers and for ground and aerial contractors. It provides practical advice on the safe and effective use of agrichemicals to control weeds, pests and plant diseases.

Provision of information to the industry
New Zealand Winegrowers encourage regional grower associations to include reminders in their newsletters of member responsibilities (eg, noise mitigation during frost). They also host seminars to promote improved vineyard management through. A range of industry events and training days, including, Romeo Bragato conference, and sector wide Grape Day seminars, annual sustainability seminars, progressive free certification of Growsafe training, the industry website and technology transfer from the comprehensive sector research programme.

Winegrowers’ Legal Guide (PDF 506 KB) 
Published by Bell Gully - May 2012
This guide is a reference tool for all participants in the wine industry. It identifies the key legislative and regulatory requirements that need to be considered when establishing a winery or vineyard and distributing the product.

International websites