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Resource material › Information We Provide › Independent review of Environment Canterbury

The findings of an independent review of the performance of Environment Canterbury (ECan) under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2002 were released by Environment Minister Nick Smith and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide on 19 February 2010.

Latest: Environment Canterbury Review – Discussion Document (18 March 2015)


The Government initiated the ECan review in response to concerns about the local authority's performance in efficiently processing resource consents, developing a proper framework for managing Canterbury's natural resources, and the management of relationships with Canterbury's territorial authorities.

The ECan review report can be downloaded below:
The findings of an investigation into the performance of the Far North District Council in processing resource consents under the Resource Management Act have also been released. This report is available from the Ministry for the Environment website at (see also:

Further information on the ECan Review

  • The report concludes that Environment Canterbury's performance in the management of fresh water issues is an unprecedented example of institutional failure in New Zealand.
  • The report notes that the availability and quality of water in the region, and the scale and nature of competing demands for water is significantly greater in the Canterbury region than anywhere else in New Zealand, but that ECan's response to managing water issues has been inadequate.
  • The review group recommends government intervention by creating a specialist entity with a single focus (the Canterbury Regional Water Authority) to manage water. The Canterbury Regional Water Authority would be managed by an appointed body comprising individuals that are representative of the broad range of water interests in the region, and responsible for developing and implementing a plan for freshwater management in the region.
  • The review group recommends the adoption of many of the positive aspects of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.
  • The review group recommends special legislation to replace the council with an appointed commission that would be tasked with making changes to address issues identified in the investigation and in particular prepare ECan for the transition to the new authority.
  • Aside from water, the report considers that ECan is generally operating effectively. The review group proposes that after water is transferred to the new authority, ECan should continue to manage the rest of its existing functions and transition back to an elected council.
Further information about the review is available on the Ministry for the Environment website.