Unstable cliff 1

Following the recent storm and flooding events, Tauranga City Council (TCC) has undertaken a review of its slope hazard maps and some landowners may have received letters from TCC advising that their property is now subject to a ‘slope hazard’. Many landowners are concerned about what this means for them and their property.

Legal Basis for Review

In short, TCC is required by the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to identify areas potentially at risk from natural hazards and has undertaken this mapping in order to meet its obligations under the Bay of Plenty Regional Policy Statement to manage natural hazard risk and its Infrastructure Development Code.

It has always had this obligation and has now undertaken land stability mapping specifically to determine slope hazards as a priority. The RMA states that “the management of significant risks from natural hazards” is a matter of national importance, which decision makers must recognise and provide for. “Natural hazards” is defined in the RMA as including erosion and land slippage.

TCC also has a legal obligation to record special characteristics of the land (including land slippage) on a LIM under s44A of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 which aren’t apparent from the City Plan, which includes natural hazard maps of this kind.

What Does this Mean for You?

Legally, the new maps will have implications for a landowner’s ability to build or undertake any further development of their property.

The Building Act 2004 (BA) provides that a council must refuse to grant a building consent for construction of a building or major alterations to a building if the land is subject to (or is likely to be subject to) one or more natural hazards or the building work is likely to accelerate, worsen, or result in a natural hazard. A building consent may only be granted for work on land subject to a natural hazard on the basis that adequate provision is made to protect the land, building work, or other properties from the natural hazard.

This means that in order to obtain a building consent, landowners will need to prove that the building work will not worsen, accelerate or cause a natural hazard and you may end up with a notice on the title recording the natural hazard risk. If building consent is granted for land identified as being subject to a natural hazard, the BA requires notice of the building consent and the natural risk to be registered on the property’s record of title.

You can ascertain if your property is subject to a slope hazard by using TCC’s mapping tool (Mapi) (as per the image below).


If you are intending to purchase a property it is important that you seek legal advice regarding any potential slope hazard that may affect the land. If you require assistance we are able to assist you with any of you due diligence enquiries.

If you are concerned about your property being subject to a slope hazard, and require legal advice regarding the same, please feel free to contact us.