Resource Management Act: RMA Link: Basic Skills

The RMAlink project aims to make community participation in all Resource Management Act processes more straightforward and less time-consuming. More effective participation from those with a concern for the environment will contribute towards improving environmental outcomes nationwide.

Basic Skills

Hosted by:

Wellington Community Network

Finding Case Law


Case law supporting your point of view can be a very effective part of your submission.

Whatever issue or RMA process you are involved in, your arguments/submissions may be more persuasive if they are supported by relevant case law. Relevant cases will indicate;
  • How the wording of the RMA is currently interpreted by the Courts, and
  • what approaches the court has considered appropriate in dealing with similar RMA processes, or resource management issues elsewhere.
Legal interpretation is not a straightforward skill. It is best to seek professional advice before basing arguments used in submissions or negotiations on case law. You must ensure that the points of law you refer to are relevant to your particular issue or situation, and have not been modified by subsequent cases.

Locating Relevant Cases

1. If possible, find a resource management professional (lawyer or planning consultant) to look for you, or ask for assistance at your community law centre or environment centre.

2. If your issue or situation relates to a particular section of the RMA, find an annotated copy of the RMA (Brookers or DSL Publishing). Each section of the annotated Act is accompanied by notes on relevant cases. These are available at some of the larger public libraries, law libraries, and some university/tertiary institution libraries. They may be available online to students/staff at university/tertiary institutions through their librarys database resources.

3. Brookers Resource Management Gazette, published weekly, is indexed. It can be searched by subject. It contains a short summary of each case decision. This is available in some libraries, and may be available electronically to tertiary students/staff through their library.

4. The Forest and Bird Protection Society's 'Handbook of Environmental Law' (2004) refers to relevant cases in its various chapters. Some of the MFE reports listed in RMAlink, and web-pages of the Quality Planning website, also contain case law references.

Obtaining Decisions
Once you have located relevant cases, the full text of judgements can be purchased from the Environment Court (or High Court or Court of Appeal), or from a commercial judgment supplier (see list below.)

Environment Court
49 Ballance Street
04 918 8300

0-5 pages - no charge
6-15 pages $15
16-30 p $20
31-50 p $25
51-70p $30
71-100p $40
Over 100 pages $50
Full year, all decisions $750

Commercial Judgment Suppliers
RMAnet (online only):
Brookers Judgment Service:, or 0800 10 60 60
LexisNexis Butterworths Judgment Service:


Peart, R. (2003) The Community Guide to the Resource Management Act 1991
Environmental Defence Society, Auckland.
Identifying Relevant Case Law p87-88.

Harris, R. (ed) (2004) Handbook of Environmental Law
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc., Wellington. ISBN 0-9597851-8-3 608p.
Comprehensive guide to RMA and other environmental law. Case law references.

Resource Management
Brookers, Wellington.
Annotated Resource Management Act, with supplementary material in 3 ring-bound volumes. Complete text of the RMA, all sections accompanied by explanatory notes, notes on interpretation, and relevant case law. Updated regularly.

Brookers Resource Management Gazette
Brookers, Wellington.
The Gazette provides a weekly update on the latest developments in environmental and resource management law. It provides a brief summary of every Environment Court decision, and other relevant cases law from the District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal. Available in some public libraries.

Web-Based Resources

Resources: Information on obtaining copies of judgments from Courts and commercial suppliers.