Resource Consent Consultation

This note has been updated for 2017 and 2020 amendments but not updated for best practice.

Section 36A of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) states that an applicant and a local authority do not have a duty under the RMA to consult any person about resource consent applications. Nevertheless, the Court has stated that “consultation is best practice and it is foolish for a party not to consult with those with a known interest in a proposal. Consultation is actively encouraged (if not directed) by the Court”. ( Watercare Services Ltd v Auckland Council [2011] NZEnvC 155)

This guidance note:

  • outlines the benefits of consultation for resource consent applicants

  • sets out some established principles of consultation

  • provides guidance on identifying who should be consulted, including specific guidance on why and when consultation with tangata whenua should be carried out

  • provides guidance on how applicants should consult, including specific guidance on consulting with tangata whenua

  • outlines the role of councils in consultation, including how councils should communicate with applicants and any interested, affected, and consulted parties

  • provides guidance on the systems councils should have in place to support the consultation process

  • assists councils in determining whether effective consultation has been undertaken by the applicant.

For more detailed relevant information see also the facilitating consultation with tangata whenua and the consultation for plan development guidance notes. The Ministry for the Environment has also published guidance to tangata whenua and local authorities on Mana Whakahono ā Rohe which is available on the Ministry's website.

In this guidance note, the term tangata whenua is used when referring to consultation with Maori groups with mana whenua over particular areas. Unless otherwise specified, this should be read as being inclusive of consultation with any group that represents tangata whenua interests, be they iwi, hapu, whanau, or iwi authorities.