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The state of well-being - A search for meaning in the New Zealand Regulatory Environment

The term "well-being" has gained prominence in national and international policy agendas. A malleable term with positive connotations and wide reach, it has become a standard objective for human advancement. New Zealand makes extensive use of the term in legislation, but well-being is seldom defined. This article explores wellbeing in New Zealand law and policy, with a focus on the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA). "Well-being" is revealed as a contested and context-dependent term at the heart of New Zealand's resource debates. Application tends to the uncritical in terms of definition and theoretical foundation. This may mask important differences between the states, which are not necessarily correlative, and may result in conflation of well-being with development. Although the term "well-being" is used with frequency in legislation, important differences are evident in the subject of wellbeing, the nature and extent of any obligation in respect of well-being, the identity of the obligor and the particularisation of dimensions of well-being. At times these nuances are lost in translation, and whilst acknowledging the benefits of the expansive and adaptive term, recommendations are made regarding its use in environmental law.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Wallace, P. J., & Holman, J. (2019). The state of well-being - A search for meaning in the New Zealand Regulatory Environment. New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law, 23, 1–30.
New Zealand Centre of Environmental Law
This article is published in the New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law. Used with permission.