The Resource Management Act 1991 and water in New Zealand : impact and implications
Wheen, Nicola Rowan
This thesis assesses the impact of the enactment of the Resource Management Act 1991 on the regulation of the management and allocation of water in New Zealand. The method of assessment used is one of comparison between the schemes and philosophies of the 1991 Act, and those of the law which previously regulated water use and control. Part I describes the former water lores and laws. Chapter 2 covers the earliest Maori and common law controls over water use and management. Chapter 3 reviews the Acts of Parliament made to supplement, and eventually supplant, the common law from 1860 to 1987. Overall these laws are submitted to have developed according to four general trends. These four trends are those of: increasing scope and comprehensiveness, increasing formalization and distribution of planning, increasing incorporation of the dual aspects of the notion of integrated management, and increasing conservation consciousness. The four trends, which are defined in Chapter 1, are identified in the ultimate section of Chapter 3. Part II begins with Chapter 4 which describes the process of law reform culminating in the enactment of the 1991 Act. The purpose, principles, schemes, and mechanisms of this Act which relate to the use and management of water in New Zealand are outlined in Chapter 5. In Part Ill, Chapter 6 takes the four trends observed in the development of New Zealand's former water law and measures whether, and to what extent, they have been continued by the 1991 Act. Each of the trends is found to have been advanced by the Act, though section 5 of the Act is recognised to have the potential to further promote the trend of increasing conservation consciousness. This section proclaims the purpose of the Act as the promotion of the sustainable management of natural and physical resource. It has at least three potential interpretations, of which one is argued to be more conservation conscious than the others. Chapter 7 advocates the adoption of this more conservation conscious interpretation by showing that it better maintains the relationship between New Zealand's water law, and both our environmental law and global environmental thinking generally. Chapter 8 assesses the support for the more conservation conscious interpretation. Both considerable legal, and some practical, support for the adoption of this interpretation is found. Chapter 8 then considers the impact of section 5, interpreted in its more conservation conscious manner, for decision-making in respect of water. Chapter 9 ends by concluding that the 1991 Act represents an potential improvement on its predecessors, but notes that whether or not this potential is recognised remains to be seen.
Degree Name: Master of Laws
Degree Discipline: Law
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
158, viii leaves :ill., music ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. University of Otago department: Law