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Urban Tree Variation Background

A change to the Resource Management Act (RMA) has triggered a process which requires the council to change the way it describes trees protected under the Proposed District Plan (PDP). The Urban Tree Variation (UTV) is the means by which the Council is intending to meet the RMA requirements.

On 27 August 2015 Council resolved to approve the public notification of Variation 1 to the Kāpiti Proposed District Plan on Urban Trees.

Council has confirmed that only the most significant indigenous trees will be protected in urban areas of Kāpiti from 4 September 2015, and that property owners will have much more freedom to trim protected trees without the need for a resource consent. Even when a resource consent is required for trimming, the cost of it will be zero.

The new provisions represent a fundamental change in approach in urban areas only. Under the Urban Tree Variation to the Proposed District Plan (PDP), only 1300 trees will be protected on about 400 properties, compared to over 10,600 protected under the PDP and about 14,000 in the Operative District Plan. A pdf copy of the proposed variation can be found here. We have also summarised the key amendments proposed, and a copy of the Section 32 Assessment can be found here.   

The ‘urban’ trees now being protected by this variation will be large, old, established indigenous trees, remnants of the original forests in Kāpiti. They are listed by property in Schedule 3.2A and can also be seen on the maps below. All affected property owners will be contacted to make them aware of the changes.

The new requirements apply only in the urban areas of Ōtaki, Paraparaumu, Raumati and Waikanae. Rural areas or non-reticulated areas like Paekākāriki, Te Horo and Peka Peka are not affected and the Operative District Plan and Proposed District Plan provisions will continue to apply. For further clarity on whether the Operative or Proposed District Plan provisions apply, please refer the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Trimming of protected trees in urban areas will be allowed providing it is done in accordance with best arboricultural practice - however, the modification and removal of trees will require a resource consent. A PDF explaining the trimming guidelines can be found here or collected from the Rimu Road council offices,  during normal opening hours.

The new provisions regarding trimming, modification and removal of trees will also apply to trees on ecological sites that are within the urban areas listed above. These are identified in Schedule 3.1 and protect approximately 9,000 trees.

The protection of notable trees in urban areas remains unchanged from the Operative and Proposed District Plans and cover a further 125 trees. Future rules applying to these trees will depend on decisions made following submissions to the Urban Tree Variation.

Property owners with notable trees will have these identified on their LIM report but a list can also be found in Schedule 10.1 of the PDP.

These changes, which align with new Resource Management Act requirements to discontinue “blanket” rules protecting particular species of trees, have been publicly notified and have immediate legal effect for trees identified in Schedule 3.2A and some trees identified in  Schedule 3.1. These trees are easily identifed as they are indented and the addresses specified in Schedule 3.1. For further information on which rules apply to the ecological sites, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions below.

The “blanket” rules lapsed on 4 September 2015. A copy of the public notice can be found here.

The variation was open for public submissions until 30 October 2015. Submissions have been received and the summary of these can be found here.  The Summary of Submissions was publicly notified for further submissions on 9 March 2016 and that notice can be viewed here.   The content of further submissions was limited to support or opposition to the submissions already made.  No new material or points could be made.  The deadline for further submissions was 5pm 24 March 2016.


The subsequent hearing of these submissions and further submissions will be incorporated into the hearings on the PDP beginning April 2016. Those hearings will make final decisions for tree protections in urban areas.

In addition, staff will explore the possibility of having a package of non-regulatory measures including council providing people with advice on best practice management of trees and financial assistance with maintaining protected urban trees.

Council will also work in partnership with iwi on recognition of culturally-significant trees that require protection under the PDP.

PDP maps as amended by Urban Tree Variation

Map  1B Ōtaki Beach North

Map  2B Ōtaki Beach South and Industrial Area

Map  3B Ōtaki Township, Racecourse, Waitohu and surrounds

Map  4B Te Horo and Te Horo Beach

Map  5B Peka Peka

Map  6B Waikanae Beach

Map  7B Waikanae North, Manu Grove and surrounds

Map  8B Paraparaumu Beach

Map  9B Waikanae Estuary, Kotuku Park, Otaihanga and surrounds

Map 10B Waikanae Garden Area and Reikorangi (parts)

Map 11B Paraparaumu Beach, Raumati Beach and Paraparaumu town centre (parts)

Map 12B Paraparaumu town centre (parts), Railway and surrounds, Nikau Valley

Map 13B Reikorangi and rural surrounds

Map 14B Raumati and Raumati South

Map 15B Paraparaumu Valley Road and surrounds

Map 16B Paekākāriki

Map 17B Ōtaki Beach and Township

Map  18B Mangaone, Hautere and Ōtaki Gorge Road

Map  19B Whareroa, Waterfall Road and Maungakotukuku Road

Map  20B Akatarawa Road and Mangaone South Road and surrounds

Map  21B Akatarawa Road

Map  22B Waitohu Valley Road, Ōtaki Gorge Road and surrounds (South)

Map  23B Ōtaki Gorge Road and surrounds (North)

Map  24B Kāpiti Island

The closing date for submissions was 4pm on Friday 30 October 2015.

For more information you can phone us on 04 296 4700 or e-mail

Frequently asked questions on Urban Tree Variation

What is an Urban Tree Variation?

A variation is a legal means to make a change to the PDP.

Why is it necessary?

The PDP was started before 2013 and follows the law as it was then. It lists specific species in specified ecological domains within the District and identifies height and trunk size thresholds for protection. The Government changed the Resource Management Act (RMA) in 2013 in relation to urban trees. Council must now identify which trees are being protected and list which urban lot they are on.

Are there any areas of the district the variation does NOT apply to?

The RMA requirement to individually list trees applies only to urban areas that have reticulated water and sewerage services. In Kāpiti this means Ōtaki, Paraparaumu, Raumati and Waikanae. The requirement to individually list trees does not apply to rural areas or non-reticulated areas like Paekākāriki, Te Horo and Peka Peka.

How do I know if I have a protected tree on my property?

You will be informed by the Council in writing. Only about 400 properties are affected. In addition to this there are about 120 notable trees already listed in the PDP.

What kind of trees are being protected?

The ‘urban’ trees being protected by this variation will be large, old, established indigenous trees, remnants of the original forests in Kāpiti.

What if I don’t have a protected tree on my property?

From 4 September the Operative District Plan rules that may have affected your trees have lapsed. As a result you are probably permitted to manage your trees in the manner you see fit. However, we recommend that you check with our Resource Consents team to ensure that this is definitely the case for trees on your specific property.

What about trimming?

Property owners will have much more freedom to trim protected trees without the need for a resource consent. Even when a resource consent is required, the cost of it will be zero.

The work must be done by an arborist who has attained the New Zealand Qualifications Authority National Certificate in Arboriculture Level 4 or equivalent qualification and the trimming must be undertaken in accordance with the New Zealand Arboricultural Association Incorporated Best Practice Guideline ‘Amenity Tree Pruning’ Version 3 dated April 2011.

A copy of the guideline can be obtained from Council offices free of charge or from the Council web site here.

What if I want to remove a protected tree, do trimming that goes beyond the guideline, or does not comply with the conditions above?

You will need to apply for a resource consent. If you are able to obtain a report from an arborist that the tree or part of the tree is damaged, dead or dying, then the application will be approved subject to conditions as a controlled activity.  If you don’t have such a report, it will be classed as a discretionary activity which may be approved or declined.

What changes have been made to rules for listed heritage/notable trees shown in the Proposed District Plan?

Planned changes are the same as those detailed above for significant indigenous trees.  However, these changes do not have immediate legal effect. Until such time as decisions have been made on any submissions to the variation, the rules in the Operative District Plan continue.

What if I live in an urban area and part of my land has an ecological site on it in the Proposed District Plan. What’s changed for me?

The trees in the urban part of the ecological site on your property have to be identified.The description of these trees and the addresses to which they apply are indented in Schedule 3.1. In terms of trimming those trees, Variation 1 has changed the rules, the same as those outlined for urban protected trees. These trimming rules have immediate legal effect so you can trim your trees in accordance with the arboricultural standards stated above.

I have an ecological site on my property but I am outside the urban area and am zoned rural hills – what’s changed for me?

Nothing. The Proposed District Plan rules continue to have effect for your ecological site which means that you will need to apply for a resource consent if you wish to trim or modify any trees or other vegetation that is within the eco site.

I own a property in the rural environment, it doesn’t have an ecological site on it but we do have a number of large indigenous trees. What rules currently apply to me?

Variation 1 does not include any changes in the rural environment. Therefore the Operative District Plan rules continue to apply to your property. These may change through the process of making decisions on submissions made to the Proposed District Plan.

What is the timeline for the variation and submissions?

The formal process is as follows:

September 2015

Variation notified

October 2015

Submissions closed

November/December 2015

Submission summaries issued and further submissions invited

December 2015/February 2016

Further submissions closed and draft officers’ reports

March 2016

Public notification for further submissions

Mid 2016


Mid 2016

Final officers' reports

Mid to late 2016

Hearings and decisions

Related links

Operative District Plan

Proposed District Plan

Submitter Engagement Version of the Proposed District Plan

Resource Management Act 1991 Section 76(4)(b)