Hanna, C., White, I., Glavovic, B. (2018). Managed retreat governance: Insights from Matatā, New Zealand. Report for the National Science Challenge: Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, University of Waikato, New Zealand.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14523
This report provides an initial summary of case study findings from PhD research investigating the role of environmental planning in enabling managed retreat in New Zealand. It begins with an overview of the case study and background to the decisions that have led to managed retreat in Matatā. Fundamentally, it highlights key administrative barriers and enablers to implementing managed retreat, which will be further developed in the doctoral thesis. Principal findings are summarised below: 1. There is a lack of national policy guidance, legislative mechanisms and implementation support to achieve managed retreat of existing land-use activities under the current planning system. This not only creates difficulties for managed retreat policy formation and implementation (requiring a process of learning by doing) but more broadly, it hinders anticipatory governance and favours absorptive resilience over transformation away from risk. 2. There is no specific risk tolerance criteria in New Zealand to determine when a particular annual loss-of-life risk is acceptable or not. This makes it more difficult to determine the point at which risk reduction (such as managed retreat) is required. 3. The process for funding managed retreat (particularly where there is risk to life) is ad hoc and uncertain, with potential to undermine the legitimacy of incentivised retreat. 4. Whilst ‘voluntary retreat’ is the only tool currently available to territorial authorities to achieve (incentivised) managed retreat of existing uses, (where the Public Works Act 1981 cannot be applied) it is not perceived as being ‘voluntary’ by people and communities if it is combined with regulation to remove existing use rights or withdrawal of service. This perception undermines trust in the retreat process and further emphasises the need for mechanisms that affected communities consider fair. 5. Provision of risk information and previous disaster experience is ineffective in avoiding investment in risky areas. Therefore, other means of implementing managed retreat are necessary in order to reduce intolerable risk to life. 6. There is a mismatch of responsibilities and jurisdiction in the management of existing land uses between territorial and regional authorities under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). Integrated management (and potential transfer of powers) is necessary in order to overcome this barrier. Early political alignment and collaborative policy development may also help the political acceptability of retreat within local government. 7. While regional councils are generally considered to have the ability to extinguish existing use rights, there is uncertainty regarding the application of s85 RMA, and the presence of existing resource consents as highlighted by Grace, France-Hudson, and Kilvington (2018). It is likely that case law arising from the Bay of Plenty Regional Plan Change 17 will provide legal clarity on these matters. 8. In the absence of a national framework, Regional Policy Statements can assist in the enablement of managed retreat where they provide a strong policy framework including a community tested, risk-based approach with key risk thresholds and direction to reduce risk to acceptable levels. 9. Policy learning is occurring across New Zealand, driven by local leadership. Development of national managed retreat principles arising from Matatā demonstrate aspects of adaptive governance.
University of Waikato, New Zealand