NZPI Conference : RMA reforms, urban development and natural hazards key issues for 2017

Resource Management Act reforms, urban development and natural hazards will be the top three planning issues affecting New Zealand in 2017, according to the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI).

These challenges will be among those addressed at NZPI’s annual conference in Wellington early next year. Water management, living-roof urbanism, Māori participation in Resource Management processes, compact cities, transport and rural issues will also be on the agenda.

Speakers at the April 4 to 7 event include Environment Minister Nick Smith, leading economist and media commentator Shamubeel Eaqub, urban futurist Stephen Yarwood, landscape architect Professor Elizabeth Mossop and Environment Court judges John Hassan and David Kirkpatrick.

The NZPI’s ‘Changing Places’ conference will address the merging relationship between built and natural environments. More than 500 delegates are expected to attend, including industry leaders, iwi, resource managers, urban designers, scientists, environmental advocates and local and central government.

The 2017 conference, which has been held annually since 1964, coincides with a period of flagship reforms and legislative change.

NZPI chief executive David Curtis said today that planning in New Zealand has reached a new threshold.

“The planning framework and practice is fast evolving with changes in legislation, new local government structures and the influence of case law,” says Curtis.

“The natural environment and our towns and urban areas are subject to new pressures that need to be addressed, for example high levels of immigration and intensive development.

“Our communities are smarter and engaging with new technology in unprecedented numbers. In response, local government and private sector companies are investing in new technology and systems to deliver, capture and engage citizens and planners alike in the regulatory process.

“The recent high-profile earthquake events, and the subsequent impact on infrastructure and the environment, also serve as a timely reminder of the importance around improving systems and techniques for planning and responding to natural hazards.”

The impending Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, which is expected to soon become law, and the recently gazetted National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPS-UDC), are expected to significantly alter the planning landscape.

The NPS-UDC requires councils in rapidly growing urban areas – such as Auckland, Christchurch, Tauranga, Queenstown and Hamilton – to provide enough land for new housing and business development. The Government signed off on the policy in October this year.

Auckland’s Unitary Plan and new local government guidance for coastal hazards and climate change are also expected to impact planning processes.

“Resource Management Act reforms in particular are a hot topic and will be a key theme at the conference,” says Curtis.

“Twenty five years since this principal piece of legislation was passed, there are now various planning and regulatory challenges that need to be addressed – for example housing affordability, the role of iwi in the planning process, water quality, urban development and the location of infrastructure.

“The key question for us, as planners, is how we meet future economic, environmental and sustainability demands while operating in an environment of unprecedented reform.

“We play a critical role in shaping New Zealand’s future, helping to develop solutions to key issues at both a regional and national level. The 2017 conference is a significant event within the industry, providing an opportunity to address the challenges and opportunities ahead.”


For more information, please contact:

Katie Moore

Convergence Communications


M: 022 0922 573

Vanessa White

NZPI Event Manager


M: 021 166 1802

Note to Editors:

  • Established in 1949, NZPI has more than 2000 members involved in strategic planning initiatives and implementation of urban and rural plans
  • NZPI members work in cities, towns, district councils and rural areas and specialise in a variety of different disciplines – for example transport, urban design or conservation
  • The Changing Places conference will be held from April 4-7 at the TSB Bank Arena and Convention Centre in Wellington. Media will be able to attend – please register your interest by emailing Vanessa White via the details above
  • A full media kit will be distributed in early 2017, confirming speaker bios and workshop topics. Presentation summaries will also be included
  • NZPI chief executive David Curtis is more than happy to speak with media about the key planning issues facing New Zealand and the impact of the RMA reforms. Please contact Katie Moore at Convergence Communications ( to arrange.




When: 04 April 2017 - 07 April 2017

Time: All Day

Where: TSB Bank Arena & Convention Centre

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