Natural Hazards

This guidance only includes changes to the RMA as a result of the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013 that are already in force. Part 3 of the Amendment Act came into effect on 3 March 2015. For more information about the amendments please refer to the Ministry for the Environment’s - Fact Sheets available from the Ministry’s website.

New Zealanders are exposed to a wide variety of natural hazards that impact on people, property, infrastructure and the wider environment. As our use of the environment is instrumental in hazard creation, any increases in use or changes in activities can exacerbate the risks of hazards through increasing the likelihood or severity of their effects. Climate change is also likely to change the frequency and range of some hazards from what we currently understand from past experience. As such, it is ever more important for those managing and planning for natural hazards to improve systems and techniques for planning for and responding to, natural hazard risks. Planning for hazards can reduce the potential for loss of life and injury, damage and destruction of property, and negative impacts to our natural, social/cultural, economic and built environments and well-being.

This guidance note has been prepared for planners, but it is also aimed at informing politicians, hazards analysts, emergency management officers, technical specialists, consultants and others involved in natural hazard management.

This guidance note is primarily about RMA planning for natural hazards. Local authorities need to also consider the broader institutional arrangements for managing hazards and emergencies, notably under the Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) Act 2002. This note provides guidance on:

  1. Natural hazard terms, the legislative framework and roles and responsibilities for natural hazard management
  2. A risk-based approach to planning for natural hazards
  3. An integrated approach to natural hazard management
  4. RMA techniques and tools for managing natural hazards
  5. Non-RMA techniques and tools for managing natural hazards
  6. Managing specific hazards through resource management plans
  7. Managing hazards through monitoring and review processes

Climate change is not dealt with as a hazard in itself but is recognized as an influence on the future frequency and severity of hazards such as flooding, drought, and erosion.

Further information on climate change can be found in the Climate Change Guidance Note and on the Ministry for the Environment website. A summary of the climate change effects applicable to New Zealand is provided in this note.