Transpower streamlines its RMA enquiry process

15 April 2021

Drawing inspiration from several New Zealand councils, Transpower’s Environment team, in collaboration with software developers Nuwave, have created a new online tool for RMA-related enquiries - Pātai

As the National Grid owner, Transpower manages any building and development activity near transmission assets that may require a resource consent from Council.  

Pātai — translated to ‘question’ or ‘enquire’ — was born out of a need identified by Transpower to streamline the processing of enquiries that involve the Resource Management Act (RMA) process. These are for:  

  • New (or extensions to existing) “sensitive” buildings such as new dwellings, education facilities, hospitals, etc;
  • Subdivisions;
  • Other buildings, earthworks or land use activities which require resource consent;
  • RMA Affected party approval requests; and
  • RMA Section 176 approval requests (except for underground cables which are processed by Before U Dig and Northpower). 

Dougall Campbell, Environmental Policy and Planning Manager at Transpower, said a motivating factor for creating an enquiry process using an online platform came from his own experience carrying out home renovations. While doing so, he was encouraged by the local council to use online building consents portal Simpli.  

“Developing a better system for enquiries was something I was already entertaining, so after having a good experience using Simpli and learning that the software developers of that tool were located here in Wellington, we started our investigation into whether Transpower could do something similar,” said Campbell.  

Over the next year, Transpower worked with Nuwave to build off what they had created in Simpli while moulding it to suit the specific RMA process at Transpower and the data it would manage.

Since its February launch, Campbell says Pātai has significantly improved the processing of enquiries through greater transparency and reduced back-and-forth between the enquirer and Transpower respondent.  

“It simplifies everything by providing a single point of contact for RMA enquiries and allowing a better user experience by being able to track the progress of the enquiry right through to our final response.

“A lot more information is now also required in the submission stage, which resolves past issues where some enquiries were vague and needed our team to ask for more information. This helps us manage these more efficiently by removing the leg work of filling gaps in information.”  

Before Pātai, subdivision and development proposals would come through to Transpower via several avenues. Because many enquiries lacked enough detail, Campbell’s team became the default administrator for most of these – even when it did not regard the RMA process. For those wanting to contact Transpower about the RMA process, having no clear channel to do so made for a frustrating experience. 

With enquiries incrementally increasing over the years, so too did the need for the process to be revised and streamlined.  

Transpower Senior environmental planner Jenna McFarlane, who worked closely with Nuwave during the development of the tool, has enjoyed watching it take care of the unnecessary manual administration the team were having to do beforehand.  

“It’s allowed roles and responsibilities to be refined,” McFarlane said. “While we still maintain oversight of the full process, the technical components of the assessment and the liaison with customers are now managed by other specialist teams within the organisation.” 

As Pātai continues to successfully manage enquiries, she says there is potential for its benefits to extend to other areas of the business at Transpower. 

“Seeing how well it’s worked for our team, it will be worth exploring how we might be able to expand its capabilities to serve other areas such as our landowner, customer, and property teams.” 

In the meantime, both Transpower and RMA enquirers will continue making the most of Pātai while avoiding the headaches of past.   
For further information, please contact:    

Joseph Hornell, Corporate Communications Advisor, 022 516 7250