What is a Cultural Impact Assessment?

A CIA is a report documenting Māori cultural values, interests and associations with an area or a resource, and the potential impacts of a proposed activity on these. CIAs are a tool to facilitate meaningful and effective participation of Māori in impact assessment. A CIA should be regarded as technical advice, much like any other technical report such as ecological or hydrological assessments.

Some iwi/hapū use the terms ‘Tangata Whenua Impact Assessment’, or ‘Tangata Whenua Effects Assessment’, to describe the impact assessment process and report.

There is no statutory requirement for applicants or the council to prepare or commission a CIA. However, an assessment of impacts on cultural values and interests can assist both applicants and the council to meet statutory obligations in a number of ways, including:

· preparation of an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) in accordance with s88(2)(b) and Schedule 4 of the Resource Management Act 1991 ('the RMA')

· requests for further information under s92 of the RMA in order to assess the application

· providing information to assist the council in determining notification status under ss95 to 95F of the RMA

· providing information to enable appropriate consideration of the relevant Part 2 matters when making a decision on an application for resource consent under s104 of the RMA

· consideration of appropriate conditions of resource consent under s108 of the RMA.

CIAs may also be relevant to proposals of national significance that are lodged with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Major infrastructure or public works projects of national significance are highly likely to require assessments of cultural effects.


· Cultural impact assessment prepared by the Takamore Trust, for the proposed Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway ( EPA publications library ).

An example of how CIA reports are used to inform an AEE for a proposal of national significance can be found here .

Cultural values reports (CVR) are variations of CIAs. These can be used in assessing or providing background information when preparing plans.

CVRs can identify and describe values pertaining to an area or resource. They differ from CIAs in that they may not include a description of effects as they do not relate to a specific activity. However, they may address broad level impacts of development occurring or anticipated in that area. Cultural values reports can provide direction as to the relevant issues and how these should best be addressed.