Media release

ORC seeks community experts to help shape the future of Otago’s natural and physical resources

Wednesday 13 May 2020

The planned programme of community input and consultation for development of ORC’s new RPS was interrupted by Covid-19 restrictions.

Over the next two weeks, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) is seeking expressions of interest from people in the community to be part of reference groups for input into its new Regional Policy Statement (RPS).

At a meeting on 22 April, councillors voted to go ahead with an alternative option for community input due to Covid-19. This alternative involves forming small reference groups of experts to give input and provide feedback about the proposed content of each topic of the RPS.

Chair Marian Hobbs said ORC was excited to gather diverse community and stakeholder input into the development of the new proposed RPS.

“This is a rare opportunity to shape Otago’s future. We know our community is filled with people who are passionate and knowledgeable about Otago’s natural and physical resources, and we want to hear from them.”

“The RPS is the region’s most significant policy document, under which all of our other plans and policies sit, so these reference groups will really be a means for people to apply their expertise to Otago’s future in a significant and meaningful way,” Cr Hobbs continued.

“In particular, we want to hear from people who can bring specific knowledge, experience and insight to the table. We’re looking for people with skills in topics ranging from hydrology, public health, tourism, and heritage issues, to ecology, urban design, farming, climate change and more.” 

ORC is seeking expressions of interest across a range of topics relevant to the RPS (see table below) by 27 May.

Policy Direction Papers are being prepared that use the information gathered from an online survey and community meetings held earlier this year. The content of these papers will be discussed by the topics’ reference groups at a series of virtual workshops – one per topic – and will go on to inform the new RPS.

Each reference group will have approximately ten people, although the complexity of some topics may require bigger groups. The reference group process will occur in two sets, with the first covering two weeks from 22 June, and the second covering two weeks from 20 July.

The time commitment from participants will be a minimum of a half day to join in the online reference group discussion, and then time across the two-week period to provide written feedback.

To find out about what’s involved or how to express your interest, please visit or call 0800 474 082.



Key skills / expertise

Urban form and development


·         Built form

·         Urban design

·         Urban planning


·         Discharging industries

·         Public health

·         Home heating / combustion

·         Building consenting

Hazards and risks

·         Climate change

·         Hazard science

·         Engineering

·         Urban development

·         Infrastructure provision

Historical and cultural values

·         Built heritage

·         Cultural heritage

·         Land use / farming / historic industry

Natural character

·         Landscape assessment

·         Hydrology

Natural features and landscapes

·         Landscape assessment

Coastal Environment

·         Coastal science

·         Fisheries

·         Tourism

·         Ecology

Integrated management

·         Planning

·         Resource management

Energy, infrastructure and transport

·         Industry including – oil, port, transport, energy, mining

Land and Freshwater

·         Land use / farm systems (note we will be looking for representation across each of Councils five Freshwater Management Units and a variety of different land use types)

·         Urban infrastructure

·         Water quantity

·         Water quality

·         Ecology

·         Hydrology

·         Rural catchment groups

·         Three waters

Ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity

·         Ecology

·         Rural land use

·         Cultural