What Does it Mean to 'take into account ' an Iwi Management Plan when Preparing or Changing a Plan?

Having identified the relevant factors for decision-making, the Courts have held that the obligation to 'take into account' an iwi management plan (IMP) consists of a number of elements:

  • weigh the relevant factors being considered

  • effect a balance between these factors that is appropriate to the circumstances

  • be able to show that you have done so.

These elements have been derived from Bleakley v ERMA [2001] 3 NZLR 213 and Haddon v Auckland Regional Council [1994] NZRMA59. If a matter is appropriately taken into account, then it must necessarily affect the discretion of the decision-maker (R v CD [1976] 1 NZLR 436).

While there has been no specific ruling on its meaning in terms of IMPs under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), the elements above provide some useful prompts for councils preparing plans.

The RMA further qualifies the words 'take into account' with 'to the extent that its content has a bearing on the resource management issues of the district'. This infers that there may be circumstances where some of the material contained in an IMP may not be relevant for RMA purposes. 'Take into account' also infers that the policy direction contained in an IMP may not be in line with the most appropriate policies or methods in terms of section 32 evaluations.

Whangarei District Council has prepared Guidelines for preparing and Taking into Account Iwi and Hapū Environmental Management Plans (PDF 106KB) (September 2006). The Council defines 'taking into account' to mean the IMP "must be shown to have input into the planning process and to have been incorporated into Council's decision making".