Update - 27 May 2020

Local Government Response Unit main page

Frequency of Response Unit updates

  • As we pivot towards recovery efforts, we have reduced the frequency of our updates to one update weekly, on Wednesdays. We will continue with this frequency until 24 June 2020.
  • From July onwards we will look to retain these updates on a monthly basis. 
  • For urgent or “breaking news” we may deliver one-off bulletins on other occasions.

The Prime Minister’s Central Government Local Government Forum

  • The annual Central/Local Government forum will be held virtually tomorrow, 28 May.
  • This forum is an important part of the engagement between central and local government, where Government Ministers and the LGNZ National Council come together to have a strategic discussion.
  • The theme for this year’s Forum is - Working together on the COVID-19 response and recovery. This meeting will include discussion on two key agenda items:
  • This meeting is an opportunity for central and local government to come together to discuss opportunities and priorities for the coming year. This is particularly important given the current COVID-19 local, national and global contexts.
    • The COVID-19 situation and Recovery Plan; and
    • The Three Waters Review.

Update on fast track consenting COVID-19 recovery legislation

  • As you will be aware, the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) have been working towards a Bill to fast-track the consenting process during the COVID-19 Recovery.
  • While subject to Cabinet decisions, a Fast Track Consenting Bill is expected to be introduced in early June with a short select committee process thereafter. 
  • MfE are in the process of refining the ways projects can be confirmed for the fast-tracking process.
  • Projects eligible for fast tracking will still have to be subjected to the normal scrutiny and analysis as is appropriate for organisations making funding decisions.    
  • The Government wishes to ensure that the existing recognition of, and protection of, Māori interests in the RMA is retained in these new processes.  Officials from MfE have worked alongside Te Arawhiti and other Government agencies on the development of this legislation.  
  • The processes, rights and obligations in any relevant Treaty settlements will need to be applied to the applications and fast-track processes for these consents.
  • The Fast Track Bill is a short-term response to the COVID-19 situation, while work on the more fundamental review of the RMA continues. 
  • While the comprehensive review of the Resource Management system is still on track, the RMA Review Panel has experienced a slight delay due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 and so we now expect the Minister to receive the report at the end of June.  After it has been presented to Cabinet it will be released publicly.  
  • The Fast Track Consenting Cabinet Paper has been released to the public. It is on the MfE website: https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rma/bill-to-fast-track-projects. MfE plan to expand this over time to include FAQs, advice for councils and iwi authorities, and for applicants.

Recovery Reference Group

  • This week the Recovery Reference Group will invite a representative from the Ministry for the Environment to attend to discuss their consent streamlining work. 
  • This Group will continue to meet weekly on Fridays for the next month before reassessing frequency of meetings.
  • We will provide a brief overview of the meeting and key progress in the following week’s update email.

 COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Amendment Order 2020

    • An increase in the social gatherings cap from 10 to 100 (including for tangihanga, funerals and faith-based gatherings);
    • Clarifying that social gathering rules apply to faith-based gatherings and community club activities (except those that are carried on together with the sale and supply of alcohol under a club licence);
    • Clarifying that event facilities, and hospitality businesses and social gatherings can have multiple groups of 100, provided they are in separate ‘defined spaces’;
    • Removing the requirement that the Director General of Health must authorise tangihanga or funerals;
    • Removing the 10 person per table limit for hospitality businesses;
    • Removing the requirement for a residential address to be recorded for contact tracing purposes;
    • Allowing counter service for non-licenced hospitality businesses, with the intention of allowing customers at fast-food restaurants or cafes to leave their table to order or collect food; and
    • Small passenger services have been removed as a close proximity business and now come under the public transport exemptions.

Next Steps towards Alert Level 1

  • On Monday, 25 May, the Prime Minister also signposted the timeframe for decisions the Government would take in the move to Alert Level 1. This includes:
  • We will work to provide you with any necessary guidance following the decisions on the Level 1 framework to support you in preparing for a subsequent shift in Alert Levels whenever it may be.
  • It is important to remember we remain at Alert Level 2 until notified of any change from Central Government.
    • Cabinet reviewing the Alert Level settings for Level 1 on 8 June; and
    • Cabinet reviewing the current Alert Level no later than June 22.

Useful resources for Alert Level 2

  • Our guidance on council services and operations at Alert Level 2 can be found on the COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit webpage here.
  • All of Government Information on life under Alert levels 3, 2 and 1 is available on COVID19.govt.nz
  • The COVID-19 website has a number of posters you may wish to use to promote good physical distancing, hygiene and staying safe under Alert Level 2. These can be found here: