RMLA Awards Report 2010

Kate Barry-Piceno, Awards Convenor

This year we received an impressive standard in the nominations received in each category and the RMLA wish to thank all those members who have put forward a nomination. For those of you who have not been successful this year, we do encourage you, and also other members, to enter next year. The strength of our awards rests in the breadth of the nominated entrants and the resultant prestige in being selected as the winning entrant.

Documentation Category

The RMLA is pleased to announce the Taranaki Regional Council nomination of ‘Taranaki where we stand. State of the Environment Report 2009’ as the successful recipient in this category.

This was a very comprehensive document, well set out and structured. It builds on earlier work (two earlier reports) and provided a well presented picture and objective of the environmental ‘status’ of the region, based on a sound amount of information and monitoring. It was a very well presented document that was easy to follow, and a refreshing and innovative approach by a Council to review its own performance and present information to the public.

Projects Category

The overall criteria for all projects is that the project itself makes a significant contribution to the advancement of best practice and the implementation of the RMA’s purpose and principles. The RMLA is pleased to announce the Taranaki Regional Council’s ‘Riparian Management Programme for Taranaki’ has been successful in this category.

This project was well underway and showed very clear problem definition, and a practical and collaborative response involving all stakeholders. It was a very topical issue, and demonstrates considerable perseverance to provide a solution with a ‘voluntary buy-in’ from all involved. The benefits of a long term view and goal were tangible and measurable. The project was narrow in focus but it won due to its practicality and effectiveness, and the great level of voluntary community ‘buy-in’ to the project.

Outstanding Person Award – Lindsay Gow

This year’s award is for an individual who has had a long career in government planning and resource management. Lindsay Gow has had a major influence in the shape of the governance of resource management and general government in New Zealand. Before his retirement, he oversaw many of the programmes that focused on improving practice in resource management in New Zealand and, in particular, Lindsay was the intellectual brain behind the development of the Resource Management Bill through its development in the late 80’s, and was strongly influential in the roll-out and implementation of the Act.

The RMLA was pleased to present the 2010 award for Outstanding Person to Lindsay Gow.

The Principal Judge John Bollard Lifetime Commemorative Award

The highlight of our Awards process this year is to announce a new RMLA Commemorative Lifetime Award, named in honour of Judge RJ Bollard. The inaugural recipient was to its namesake, Principal Judge John Bollard.

The award was presented by Peter Skelton who delivered a wonderful speech about John’s life. A copy of this speech follows this report and can also be viewed on-line on the RMLA website. It was accepted on John’s behalf by Principal Environment Court Judge Craig Thompson, as requested by John Bollard’s wife Shirley Bollard, who was sadly overseas and could not attend the evening.

As so well summed up about John Bollard’s career by Peter Skelton:

‘In all that he did John Bollard was a giver and never a taker. From his earliest days in practise as a lawyer to the end of his career as a Judge he was motivated by dedication to the task in hand and service to others. His was a career of which his wife Shirley and his family can be truly proud. He served his country with great distinction and his contribution to the law will live on in the judgments he wrote so well during his distinguished career.’

The Principal Judge John Bollard Lifetime Commemorative Award

2 October 2010

Professor Peter Skelton

It is a great honour for me to have been asked to make this first presentation of the Principal Judge John Bollard Lifetime Award. John and I were close judicial colleagues for about 12 years until I retired from the Environment Court in 2000 but our friendship and our mutual interest in resource management law and practice continued until his untimely death in April last year.

John took his law degree at Auckland University and a recent reading of his CV has reminded me that we were virtually contemporaries at that University. However, while I settled gratefully for a hard won LL.B, John went on some years later to gain a Master of Jurisprudence (with distinction). This was a tribute not only to his academic ability but also to his powers of endurance which as it turned out were to be of considerable assistance to him in his later judicial life and in another way that I will allude to as I proceed.

John became a partner in the law firm of Brookfield Prendergast Schnauer and Smytheman in 1967 and continued in the firm of Brandon Brookfield from 1984 to 1987 as the result of a merger. In the earlier firm one of his partners was the recently retired Judge David Sheppard who was appointed to the Planning Tribunal in 1980. Brookfields as they were locally known in legal circles thus had a very strong planning and resource management legal team and I am fairly confident it is still the only law firm in New Zealand to have produced three Environment Judges. Judge Laurie Newhook comes from the same stable.

In the early years of his practising life John undertook general legal work until about 1976 when he began to specialise in litigation including town planning appeal work. It is worth reflecting here on the significance of that early general practice experience which can provide such a sound grounding for future specialisation. I experienced this myself at much the same time. In later judicial life I am sure both John and I benefited greatly from having learned the rudiments of conveyancing, land law, contract and commercial law. John’s versatility is demonstrated also by the fact that his masters thesis was entitled ‘Unit Trusts in New Zealand.’ based on an interest he had developed as Convenor of the Companies and Commerce Subcommittee of the Auckland District Law Society in 1977-78. During his practising days John was also a member of several other Law Society committees both at the district and national levels and from 1974 to 1981 he was a part-time University tutor.

But as his career developed it was to be in the administrative and planning law areas that he would make his name and earn his reputation as a highly skilled and competent litigator. From 1980 to 1987 he acted for at least 9 territorial authorities in the Auckland Region and the Bay of Plenty, the Auckland Regional Council and his old alma mater the Auckland University. He even appeared in front of me on two or three occasions in planning cases I heard in Auckland after my appointment to the Planning Tribunal in 1978. The outcomes are unimportant but I recall him then as always being well prepared, highly knowledgeable about the law (a great help to me) and the soul of courtesy- a characteristic that he retained throughout his professional life.

John’s practise took him before the Planning Tribunal, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The cases were mainly in the planning and environmental area and some of the more notable ones included a case about a reserve in Mt Roskill; an unsightly collection of car wrecks in Whitford; a designation for airport expansion of a quarryable volcanic cone at Mangere and two cases about bulk LPG storage at Wiri. In the Court of Appeal as well as some planning cases he also appeared in two important administrative law cases. He appeared for the Auckland University in a case about the jurisdiction of the University Visitor and he appeared for the Auckland Regional Council in a leading case about car rental firms at airports.

In April 1988 John was appointed a Judge of the Planning Tribunal (later the Environment Court). Judge Arnold Turner had retired reducing the number of Planning Judges to just three, David Sheppard (Principal), John Treadwell and myself so John’s appointment was a very welcome addition to our ranks. We were joined in 1990 by Shonagh Kenderdine in Wellington and for several years thereafter our number remained at five. It is interesting to observe that the authorised statutory number of Environment Judges is now 10.

John was awarded the 1990 Commemorative Medal and in 2003 was appointed Principal Judge of the Environment Court. During his long and distinguished career as a Judge he presided over a wide variety of cases some of which still have precedent value today. There were cases about Maori issues including the celebrated prosecution over the attempt to cut down the pine tree on One Tree Hill and urban expansion at Bethlehem in the Bay of Plenty and a development at Thames both on land of significance to Maori. Just pausing to reflect on the One Tree Hill case; I mentioned earlier John’s courteous disposition. I happened to be in Auckland for part of the time when John was dealing with that case and I recall very clearly the calm and measured way he went about handling a very angry and defiant defendant who I am sure really wanted to become a martyr to a cause but John ensured this did not eventuate.

John also presided over cases concerning an expansion of the Waihi gold mine; a proposed resort on Urupukakpuka Island also in the Bay of Plenty; the redevelopment of Eden Park for night matches; a case about coastal erosion at Papamoa Beach; a series of proposals for a Skytower in Auckland and the long drawn out case about the Whangamata Marina. I recall also that he was the Judge involved with the lengthy hearings into Change 55 to the Rodney District Plan- another tour de force if ever there was one. He was also the Judge at first instance in the precedent setting Machinery Movers Ltd prosecution that remains the leading case on sentencing under the Resource Management Act.

For much of his time as a Judge, John was joined on the bench by two very competent Commissioners. One was Jim Dart who will be remembered from the Auckland University Planning School and the other was Arthur Hackett who was a surgeon and of course thus eminently qualified to be a Commissioner. Actually, Arthur doubled as our unofficial medical adviser and was forever urging us to eat something sweet at lunchtimes to keep our blood sugar up so we wouldn’t go to sleep in the afternoons!

These three spent a lot of time together both in Auckland and on circuit mostly in the Bay of Plenty. They became very good friends and importantly in the context of what I am about to say, they were all competent tennis players. When they discovered that I too fancied myself as a moderately competent exponent of the game (I was in fact still playing inter club tennis at that stage) arrangements were made for me to sit more regularly in Auckland with the instruction that I was not to leave home without my tennis racquet. We did battle on John’s lovely home court at Benson Road in Remuera where we were always welcomed by his wife Shirley and liberally provided with recuperative libations. We did battle at many conference venues and Judges’ meetings and on one occasion I was able to take John to experience night tennis at my own club in Christchurch. I think that was after the Eden Park case but then again maybe not!

All three of John’s divisional team were not only full of tenacity and purpose when sitting in the Environment Court they were equally so on the tennis court and it soon became evident to me that my assumed superiority in that sport was completely misplaced. They were a formidable combination but John never suggested that I should team up with him to take on the other two. He always wanted to keep my scalp for himself and in that regard he was frequently successful. They were great days.

Some of John’s later cases included one about burning off tussock country in Otago; a case in the Applefields saga and a major case about a proposed sawmill in the Coromandel Peninsula.
John wrote many articles on planning and resource management issues and he attended and spoke at many conferences. I recall in particular his absolute delight on being invited to address the Xth Commonwealth Law Conference at Nicosia in Cyprus on the subject of enforcement. This I believe was a highlight of his judicial career.

In his capacity as Principal Judge he was responsible for many innovative improvements to the workings of the Environment Court including the case tracking system; revision of the Practice Notes relating to Alternative Dispute Resolution; development of the Code of Conduct for Expert Witnesses; standardising consent orders and improving pre-hearing caucusing of expert witnesses.

In all that he did John Bollard was a giver and never a taker. From his earliest days in practise as a lawyer to the end of his career as a Judge he was motivated by dedication to the task in hand and service to others. His was a career of which his wife Shirley and his family can be truly proud. He served his country with great distinction and his contribution to the law will live on in the judgments he wrote so well during his distinguished career.

I valued him very highly both as a friend and a colleague. I still miss him to this day and I will do so for a long time to come. I am delighted that the Resource Management Law Association has seen fit to create this award in his name and it is entirely appropriate that John should be the first recipient. It is now my privilege to formally make that presentation to His Honour Principal Judge Craig Thompson on behalf of Shirley Bollard who is currently overseas and in doing so I also want to record that John’s close friend and colleague David Sheppard has expressed a special wish to be associated with this award and with this evening’s presentation.