The main legislation that deals with the management of land, air, water (water includes all forms of water except for water in tanks or pipes) in New Zealand is the Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991.
In the context of environmental management it is important for every New Zealander to understand the purpose of the RMA which is set out in section 5 of the Act as follows:
- "... The purpose of this Act is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.
- In this Act, sustainable management means managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being and for their health and safety while —
- sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
- safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and
- avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment…”
Under the RMA regional councils, district (and city) councils and the Ministry for the Environment have a range powers and functions.