New Zealand's



The coastline of New Zealand is the 9th longest in the world as it spans at about 15000 kilometres (9,300 mi).

The two main Islands bordering the northern and far southern points of the coastline include the slope point and the surville cliffs. The Pacific Ocean and the Tasman are the main borders of the coastline. In recent years, there have been combative activities due to increasing Coastal Development which include marine farms and buildings, hence the need for the Coastal Policy.

Legislation of the Act

The coastal environment of New Zealand is chiefly administered under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). Statutory authorities that are instituted by this legislation are liable for the spectrum of optional and compulsory tools used for the advancement of RMA’s purpose, the different angles of coastal management and fixed principles which must be applied by those authorities. Other Acts that are instrumental to the management of the coastal environment in New Zealand include Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana), Fisheries Act 1996, Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000 and Local Government Act 2002.

Purpose of the Act

The core purpose of the RMA is to:

  • Advance the continual management of physical and natural resources.
  • Sustain the potential of the physical and natural resources in order to envisage and meet the needs of future generations
  • Conserve the life-supporting quantity of soil, water, air and the ecosystems
  • Evade and remedy any detrimental effects of activities on the environment.

Why the New Zealand Coastal Policy was Formulated

The compelling impact that activities had on the coastal environment became a growing concern. The risks connected with natural hazards escalated with the rise in coastal related activities which affected the quality of water in most cases. There was rising demand for space for marine related activities which led to conflict oftentimes. On this premise was the New Zealand Coastal Policy formulated and its core purpose was to provide a clear direction on control of activities in the coastal environment. This was done by enacting policies that ensured the protection of the natural coastal resources from activities that might compromise them.


Policy 1.  Extent and characteristics of the coastal environment

  • Recognising that issues may arise due to the characteristics and expansion of the coastal environment as it varies from locality and locality and region to region.
  • Admitting that the coastal marine area, islands around the coastal marine area, areas facing the risk of coastal hazards, physical and built resources, etc are all part of the coastal environment.

Policy 2. The treaty of Waitangi, Tangata Whenua & Maori

  • Recognising the cultural and enduring traditional relationships Tangata Whenua has built over time with the other areas of the coastal environment.

Policy 3.  Precautionary Approach

  • Endorsement of a precautionary approach geared towards planned activities whose effects on the coastal environment might be miscellaneous, unknown and uncertain but can cause unavoidable consequences.

Policy 4Integration

  • Activity and management control within the coastal environment which is aimed at going beyond administrative boundaries which include - integration of the iwi, rohe and hapu boundaries crossing the local authority boundaries and integrating the local authority boundary that lies between the land and the coastal marine area.

Policy 5. Waters or lands held or managed under other acts

  • To consider the effects of the Act on lands and waters within the coastal environment which is recognised in the Conservation Act of 1987 and other Acts concerning protection and conservation


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