The following speech was presented by Derek Nolan at the RMLA 2001 Conference Dinner held recently in Wellington

Ladies and Gentlemen

Those members who looked closely at the forms mailed out to you a month or so ago, to vote for members of the National Committee; or who were present at the AGM yesterday when the President’s Annual Report was presented; will have noticed something uniquely different about those forms and the report, compared to any previous year.

What was it?

It was of course that the list of candidates for the incoming National Committee was, to use the new jargon, “Rebecca-Free”!

This was not the work of the “Eco-Taleban”, to use Francis Weaver’s term for the GM-Free lobby, or the “Taleban-Banana” as they have also been called by their opponents.

Rebecca is alive and well, and here tonight. It is just that she chose to retire after an illustrious nine year career on the National Committee.

The Committee quite properly decided that this occasion could not go unnoticed. I am honoured to have been asked by the Committee to say something tonight about Rebecca’s contribution.

The RMLA is loosely based on similar organisations in Australia, primarily NELA (with whom we had a joint conference in Queenstown) and related State Associations like QELA (the Queensland Environmental Law Association). They are multi-disciplinary bodies who like us are linked together by environmental and planning legislation.

In the 1980’s a number of New Zealanders joined NELA and were travelling to their conferences, or to those run by QELA (which always seemed to be in beautiful tropical locations), and were receiving their publications. We began to think about establishing a related, multi-disciplinary group in New Zealand, perhaps as an off-shoot of NELA. We went to the extent of meeting with executive members of NELA, obtaining NELA’s written constitution, and so on. But like so many voluntary things, ongoing pressures of work meant that the idea just simmered along and never got on the boil.

Rebecca Macky, meanwhile, although an Aucklander and a Victoria University graduate, was practising in property and planning law in what became the Brisbane office of Freehills, the national Australian law firm. Rebecca was an active participant in QELA and NELA activities and was well known as a great organiser and as someone who is very social. Links were soon forged between her and the New Zealanders attending the Australian events.

As luck would have it for us, at about the time that the Resource Management Act was coming to final fruition, Rebecca decided to return to live in New Zealand. So suddenly we had in our midst an enthusiastic member of the Australian versions of the RMLA, a great organiser, someone keen on a good time, and perhaps best of all at that very point – someone who didn’t immediately have a full practice or client workload as she had arrived fresh from overseas.

With Bell Gully’s blessing, as her employer, (which we are grateful for), within a very short time Rebecca took the initiative to set up a series of lunch meetings with a small group of us who shared the vision to establish a multi-disciplinary Association here in New Zealand. That founding group was Rebecca, Peter Salmon, Ian Cowper, me, Rob Fisher, Phil Mitchell and Adrienne Young-Cooper. A little later we invited Judith Collins to join us. She was with Fletcher Challenge and added an industry perspective.

Over a period of a few months and lots of lunches, we had decided on a name and a structure for the new association and agreed on what its objects should be. On the 1st of October 1992 the RMLA was formally launched at an inaugural dinner, attended by 120 people from all over New Zealand. Membership now stands at 850 or so.

Peter Salmon became our first President in 1992, with Rebecca as our first Secretary. She continued to serve that role when I was President, and in October 1997 Rebecca became our third President, which role she filled for two years. She remained on the National Committee from 1999 until this year.

Rebecca was undoubtedly the individual who contributed the most to the formation of the RMLA and to running it thereafter, especially for the first critical years, including the initial Rotorua conference in 1993 and many of the subsequent conferences. Karol Helmink was for much of that period Rebecca’s secretary, and the hours those two put into our Association together, was enormous. It has only been in more recent times, with the RMLA so well established, the regional committees in place, and Karol handling things on a day-to-day basis, that Rebecca has felt that the Association need not take up so much of her time.

So Rebecca, we have a lot to thank you for. You are undoubtedly the “Mother of our Association”. You successfully brought all your skills to bear, for nine years. I’ve already mentioned your organisational skills. In part that’s because you are also, an excellent communicator, you delegate well, and you have a happy knack of getting people to do things for you.

I can, of course, recall some occasions when people who have been supposed to undertake a task for the RMLA, have not performed to your high expectations. I always felt rather sorry for them, as you drew yourself up to your not inconsiderable height, and gave them a withering stare and a good Macky telling off! It always seemed to work.

Indeed, when I first watched that new television programme with Louise Wallace, as some sort of dominatrix, telling the losers in her competition “You are the weakest link! Goodbye!” I immediately thought of Rebecca.

People here should also know that during this nine year period when you have given such commitment to RMLA, you have achieved several other milestones in your life which on their own would be enough for most people.

You worked hard and successfully, to become a Partner in Bell Gully, which is an honour in itself.

You fell in love with, and married, one of your Partners at Bell Gully.

And out of loyalty to the RMLA, you even selected one who was an RMLA member, and I should take this opportunity on behalf of the Association to thank David McGregor for all his love and support for Rebecca, which has benefited us all.

More recently you have become a Consultant to Bell Gully.

And now, according to my sources, you can be found at the gym; but in between pumping iron or whatever you do at the gym, you are also studying for a Diploma in Environmental Management at the University of Auckland.

Now, one last story about Rebecca to close on.

We all had to trek up north to Pakiri Beach (of “Arrigato” fame), to Rebecca’s wedding. Everyone was muttering away under their breaths, shaking their heads in amazement, and saying “how could she?”.

But Rebecca’s powers of organisation proved even greater than the combined powers of Prada, Team New Zealand and the Almighty! That first race of the America’s Cup was cancelled for lack of wind.

The really big event in Auckland and the place to be that day was Pakiri!

So Rebecca, to honour your great contribution to the RMLA and to the wider resource management community, I am very pleased to announce that the National Committee has decided, first to offer you honorary membership for life, and second, you are to be a recipient of the “RMLA Award”.

The citation on the trophy, as chosen by the Committee, reads “For inspiration, innovation and leadership in the development, theory and practice of resource management”.

I would ask that you come up and receive the Award.