President’s Report – June 2012

Dear Members

Last month a small group from the National Committee had a very positive meeting with the new Minister for the Environment, the Hon Amy Adams, to advance our relationship with her office and to seek ways through which the Association could work on matters of mutual interest.  The meeting successfully introduced the Association to the Minister as being the largest national multi-disciplinary organisation interested in resource management from a wide range of backgrounds ranging from Law, planning, environmental sciences, central and local government and the judiciary.  We were able to covey our interest in promoting excellence in resource management policy and practise that contributes to high quality environmental outcomes.

The Association’s unique characteristics including membership composition, regional branch structure and process related objectives were explained as they confer a unique opportunity to act as a non-aligned sounding board for new proposals.  This aligns well with the intention of the National Committee to work with the incoming Minister in relation to seeking common goals, particularly in respect of the practicality and the workability of legislative proposals and regulations.

In a related way it, please continue to look to the Association’s website for your resource management updates including links to articles and papers of interest regarding the government’s reform agenda.  Our goal is for the Association’s website to be the first place to look for serious debate about current RMA and related issues as well as the relevant information relating to the Association’s objectives.  We will be doing this by posting links to relevant articles, opinion pieces, official and other items whether from the Association’s own members or from other organisations.  This is in addition to the usual information about upcoming events, conferences etc.  The process has already started with recent posts that include links to the Alternative TAG report on the review of ss6 & 7 RMA by the Environmental Defence Society, and the growing number of papers on ways to streamline the RMA policy and plan making process.  To assist us achieve this status for the website, please feel free to refer interesting and relevant papers on current topics that you are aware of to Karol Helmink for consideration.

On 25 May, Simon Berry represented the Association at a special valedictory sitting of the Environment Court to celebrate the judicial career of Judge Gordon Whiting.  During his time on the bench, Judge Whiting has advanced the practice of Resource Management in New Zealand through his decisions on policy and plan changes and resource consents, many of which have had high economic impact involving the resolution of conflicting private and public interests.  Of particular note are some of Judge Whiting’s important determinations in the Waikato region including decisions on geothermal policies which have been responsible for a renaissance in geothermal energy projects in the central North Island; the variation which addresses nitrogen discharges to preserve Lake Taupo water quality; and a major variation relating to water allocation.  The Association wishes Judge Whiting well in his retirement and for the forthcoming King Salmon hearing which he has been appointed to chair.

This month marks the start of the annual process to recognise excellence through the Association’s Awards that are announced at the Conference Dinner.  Andrea Rickard, Bal Matheson and others from the National Committee have finished the process of revising the Awards criteria to make them more relevant to the range of publications, documents and projects that contribute to the business of resource management in this country and that further the objectives of the Association.  Please look to the specific notice in this newsletter and follow the links to the revised criteria. 

I particularly wish to draw your attention to the new award category that separates Documentation from Publications.  As these have distinctly separate purposes and audiences it was decided to eliminate the past problems trying to compare them by recognising them separately.  I also make the observation that the Project category is not limited to newly completed work but note there is provision for projects that have a history as an implementation criterion has also been added.

We are aware that there are many pieces of work, projects and outstanding individuals that have contributed to best practice resource management and it has been our objective to incentivise recognition of these through the revised criteria.  It is by seeking the recognition of an award that the innovation and best practice epitomised by your work can be identified, recognised and communicated to others and in the process contribute to raising the overall standard of our practice.  My hope is that this year, the Awards committee will be faced with a record number of entries in all categories.

The final touches are being added to this year’s conference programme so once again a big thanks to the Conference committee and to the Queenstown branch in general whose continued efforts are ensuring this will be the must attend resource management event this year so remember to diary it in for 27 to 29 September.