ENVPL201-19A (HAM)

Introduction to Resource Management

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences
Environmental Planning


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: frances.douch@waikato.ac.nz

Placement Coordinator(s)


Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)


: jillene.bydder@waikato.ac.nz

You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 5: dial +64 7 858 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
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Paper Description

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This paper is designed to provide students with an introduction to law and policy relevant to the practice of environmental planning and management in New Zealand. It contains core academic and technical content, and develops competencies central to the discipline.

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Paper Structure

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The paper will be delivered through 2 lectures (3 hours total) each week. We recommend that students attend all scheduled lectures, as our experience tells us that students who regularly attend class perform more strongly than students who do not. The final examination for this paper will test your understanding of all the lectures. The classes will also be supported by Powerpoint notes and will, as a general rule (with some exceptions) be available on Panopto.


You also need to attend 3 (2 hour) tutorial sessions as shown on the schedule.

Council hearing

Apart from lectures and tutorials, you are expected to attend half a day, in your own time, at a council hearing to enable you to prepare a hearings report.

Pip Wallace is the course convenor of the paper and will be available to answer course queries. If you are having difficulty with completing your assignments on time, attending lectures or understanding lectures, please make sure you come and see me. I will do my best to help. It is always better to come early before you develop a bigger problem and its left too late in the course to fix!

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Outcomes
    1. explain and discuss how the RMA works in practice, including the major steps for a resource consent application and what is involved in a council hearing
    2. demonstrate fundamental skills in interpreting a district or regional plan, including zoning, categories of activity and performance and development standards
    3. demonstrate skills in research, analysis and critical reflection in a written report of a planning hearing
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Tutorials #1-3 as shown on Schedule

Each of the 3 tutorials is 2 hours long. They are practical in focus and designed to support you in-class learning. Tutorial times will be allocated by subscribing to a group time during the first weeks of the course.


You will have 1 in-class test, worth 20%. The test is a short answer test, designed to cover material taught in lecture and as supported in the readings. The test will be 50 minutes long and held in class during a scheduled lecture time as set out in the paper outline schedule. The test is not open book and you may not bring reference material into the lecture room. There will be space available on the paper to complete the test and we do not expect answers longer than the space provided. You may however bring additional paper and we recommend you bring at least 2 pens.

Hearing report

You will need to attend a District or Regional council RMA hearing during the semester, so that you have the opportunity to prepare this report. The purpose of the hearing report is to make you notice, record, and reflect on the key elements of planning under the Resource Management Act in the context of a resource management hearing. You will arrange and attend a hearing (as available) at a time which works best for you.

Hearing Dates: Hearing dates cannot be fixed prior to the start of this course, as we need to receive notification from a council about when a hearing will be held. You will be notified in class of upcoming council hearings. You can also find out dates and times by phoning the hearings secretary for any district or regional council or from the public notices of the local papers. The dates will be for hearings at Hamilton City Council, Waikato District Council, Waipa District Council and Waikato Regional Council. If you prefer, you may attend a hearing in any other district or regional council, for example, a council close to where you live. Many councils now have details of hearing agendas posted online in advance of a hearing. Search for the council and then “notified resource consents”, then find details of the hearing from the agenda. You may also attend Council hearings in relation to publicly proposed district and regional plans.

Go to the first Hearing that you can possibly get to. Although you have 3 months for this assignment, do not be lulled into thinking you can put it off and go later. Council resource consent hearings do not happen more than once a month, and so if you want to go to a hearing in easy distance of the university, there are not many that come up in that time span. Start worrying if you have not been to a hearing by the end of April..

Try and get to the hearing at the start, so that you can see and hear what happens. However, if you have a class or some other reason that makes you late, you can slip in quietly and it will be OK. If you come in late you will need to try and catch up on important information (such as councillors’ names, what the hearing is about, etc.) by getting a copy of the agenda and other useful information. Normally, a copy of the agenda for each hearing will be available in electronic form from the Council website or on Moodle.

You do not have to stay for an entire hearing, but make sure you stay for at least as long as it takes you to understand what is going on (this could be 2-3 hours). Try and find out the names and functions of the people you see. If you can’t see from name tags or from the discussion, wait for a tea break and ask the committee secretary or one of the councillors (Note: council hearings always break for lunch and morning and afternoon tea). Council hearings are a serious business, please make sure you are respectful of protocol and polite at all times. Do not talk throughout the hearing and ensure your mobile phones are switched off. If you arrive early introduce yourself to the Council staff who are organising the hearing.

Report Guidelines: To help you structure your report and analyse the hearing, you may wish to consider the following guidelines:

Title page: include the name of the Council, the type of hearing (e.g. a resource consent hearing or a hearing for a change/variation to a regional or district plan), the date and venue of the hearing, the name of the resource consent applicant(s) or district plan variation or plan change, the location of the site or the nature of the topic/issue that is the subject of the hearing, the type of consent (e.g. a subdivision or land use consent, a discharge permit or a coastal permit).

Introduction: provide a brief overview of the issue/s that is/are the subject of the hearing and agencies and people involved. If possible, provide a location map of the site of the application.

Analysis of the Hearing:

Describe the physical surroundings and the people involved; note anything that catches your eye; identify who the various people are and what are their roles (e.g. councillors, committee secretary and other council staff, applicants or submitters, legal counsel, expert witnesses etc.); note any unusual characteristics (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity), and any interactions, communication, body language etc.; make what interpretations you can.

Note the reactions of listeners to particular speakers and see if you can see any relationship between the kind of reaction and the characteristics of the speaker (e.g. age, sex, dress, level of expertise, level of confidence, authority, social status etc.). Critically consider aspects such as these and discuss them in the context of the process and substance of the hearing.

Draw a diagram of the venue, showing the main physical features and who is sitting where.

Describe your own reactions to the place. (Remember that you, yourself, are an important source of information; chances are, the way you think and feel is the way an ordinary member of the public is likely to think or feel. You can use your own reactions and responses as an indicator of the situation and this can form an important part of your analysis.)

Most importantly, comment on what you see and hear in the light of what you have learned about the Resource Management Act. Try and relate what you see and hear to what you learn in your lectures. For example, explain what type of process you have witnessed. Was it a plan hearing or a resource consent application? If it is a resource consent hearing, what is the point of the resource consent and what type of resource consent is it? What do you understand in terms of the zoning and the category of activity? How is the process carried out and how are the decisions made? What is the role of the Purpose and Principles of the RMA? How did they affect the process you examined? What have you discovered about environmental planning? Is planning political? Does power affect planning?

These are examples, and not all may relate to the process you examine. There are many different ways to explore the hearings process, relate it to your course content and analyse it. As well as showing you understand the process bring your own critical reflection to your report. Done well this will elevate your report to a top grade.

Word limit: 2000 words. (Does not include bibliography and table of contents) Assessment will include a consideration of the clarity, brevity and relevance of what you say. Be ruthless with your editing and ask yourself at all times: is this bit necessary for an understanding of my analysis?

Style: Use your own language in writing the report. Write clearly and succinctly. Do not quote verbatim from the Hearing report unless you also give the reference, including the page number. Remember that plagiarism of all forms is forbidden. Your report will be filed through the Turnitin plagiarism detection software. We use the “Chicago Author Date style” for the programme, as it is an internationally recognised style commonly used in planning research. Make sure that when you refer to information from other sources, such as the planner’s report for the hearing, that you clearly reference this use. For further assistance on style and referencing please see the Environmental Planning Portal via the Library page: http://www.waikato.ac.nz/library/portals/environmental_planning). Here is a link to common referencing examples also available through the library portal: https://www.waikato.ac.nz/library/study/referencing/styles/chicago-geography-eplanning/examples

A general guide to research and writing is available here (https://www.waikato.ac.nz/library/study/guides/literature-review-undergraduates), but your first point of reference should be this paper outline.

Layout: Use a report format with a cover page, contents page, introduction, conclusion, bibliography and appendices (if necessary). An executive summary is unnecessary. Leave enough room at the margins for marker’s comments, and use headings with bold font to show structure and thought. Use consistent line spacing. 1 ½ to 2 spacing is easier to read than 1 spacing. Number each page, by means of a ‘header’ or ‘footer’. Use A4 paper. Staple the pages together with the cover sheet. Hand the report in to the Faculty Information Centre, J.G.16, on or before the due date. Use a clear font such as Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial, font size 12.

Note that the FASS Faculty Information Centre has a special format for the front page of a report, essay or test. This includes your name and Student ID, the name of the Course, the title of the assignment (Resource Management Act Hearing Report), word length, and date (for your own future reference).

Exemplars: We do not offer exemplars for the report as we prefer to develop your originality and skill in terms of devising an approach, which best fits the hearing and your experience. The instructions above set out in detail what is expected, and we accept an interesting variety of reports in response. The assessment criterial below should also be borne in mind as you write the report.

Assessment Criteria:

Your report will be assessed according to how successfully it fits the following criteria:

  • the description is accurate, succinct, and to-the-point (your description should cover the essentials but not be weighed down by verbiage)
  • your analysis shows an understanding of the purpose, principles and relevant provisions of the RMA
  • your comments and interpretations show an understanding of the hearing in relation to the RMA
  • your report shows insight into the power and politics of planning
  • the organisation of your report is clear, logical and easy to follow
  • the layout and presentation of your report is well set out and easy to read and understand
  • the report is accurately referenced in accordance with the Chicago author date style.


The exam is worth 40% and is held at the conclusion of the course during the exam period.The date of the exam will be advised once known. The exam will consist of a mix of short and long answer questions.

Your long answers will be assessed according to how well they:

  • address the question which was asked;
  • involve sound reasoning, and relevant supporting evidence;
  • give examples that are relevant and show you understand the question;
  • have a clear and logical structure (e.g. it should progress logically from introduction, to main body, and conclusion, with the linkages between parts of the argument clearly shown);
  • use concepts correctly;
  • show legible writing, correct spelling, grammar, & punctuation.

A lecture in the last week of the paper will be a revision session to prepare for the exam.

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 60:40. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 40% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 60:40 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 40% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Tutorials 1-3
  • Hand-in: In Tutorial
2. Test
2 May 2019
12:00 PM
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
3. Hearing Report
27 May 2019
4:00 PM
  • Online: FASS
  • Hand-in: Assignment Box (FASS)
4. Exam
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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For all readings an electronic course readings list will be available.
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Online Support

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This paper will be supported via Moodle. The lectures given by Pip will generally be available via Panopto recordings. Guest lectures are not usually recorded and neither are workshops/case studies due to their interactive nature.
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You should count on spending a minimum of 150 hours on the paper, including approximately 36 hours of lectures and 6 hours of labs. Your work load should amount to an average of 10 hours per week (including the mid-semester break and study week).
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Linkages to Other Papers

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This paper updates and replaces the first half module of a paper offered prior to 2018 as Principles of Environmental Planning.
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Restricted papers: ENVP206

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