In November 2019, Minister for the Environment David Parked recommended that the Otago Regional Council prepared a new Regional Policy Statement. This was to be part of the review of ORCs planning framework and to allow it to be operative by 1 April 2022. 

This deadline would mean the RPS would be in place in time for the review of the Water Plan, scheduled to be notified as the Land and Water Regional Plan by the end of 2023. 

Consultation and development Process

Community consultation

The first phase of consultation in February 2020 included an online survey seeking feedback on the natural and physical resources which the community valued and those which they were concerned about. ORC also sought feedback on Significant Resource Management Issues prepared from a workshop held with Councillors.

Following the feedback on the online survey, a second phase of consultation began in March 2020. Facilitated discussions were held in Oamaru, Dunedin, Tapanui and Balclutha. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, meetings in Alexandra and Queenstown were cancelled.

Read a report about Phase 1 and Phase 2 consultation here

Reference Groups

To enable community feedback on the RPS during Covid-19 restrictions, ORC asked suitably qualified or experienced and interested people to express their interest in joining one of a series of online reference groups, reflecting the framework of the new RPS (as determined by the National Planning Standards). These groups reviewed and gave advice on the draft policy direction in the RPS.

Freshwater Visions

In September 2020, the government released the Essential Freshwater reforms to stop degradation of NZ’s waterways and improve water quality and the health of associated ecosystems.

One of the new requirements under the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 is for all regional councils to work with tangata whenua and communities to develop long-term freshwater visions for Freshwater Management Units (FMUs). Otago has five FMUs, one of which (the Clutha Mata-au FMU) is further divided into five rohe (areas) due to size. The freshwater visions are included as objectives in the new proposed Otago RPS.

ORC consulted with communities around Otago in October and November 2020. Read a report on this process here.

Statutory Consultation

In April and May 2021, ORC undertook Clause 3 and Clause 4A consultation under Schedule 1 of the Resource Management Act 1991. Clause 3 names several key stakeholders who must be given the chance to review the draft RPS before notification (other key participants in the development process, including reference group members, were also included in this group). Clause 4A requires a final review by takata whenua.

These are the final external reviews the Act requires prior to notification. As a matter of good practice, the document has also undergone legal review.


On 26 June 2021, we notified a new proposed Regional Policy Statement. Submissions closed on 3 September 2021.