Regional News – December 2012

Auckland – Kitt Littlejohn

As this edition of the Newsletter goes to print, the Auckland Branch is eagerly awaiting its end of year bash – a reprise of last year’s Battle of the Bands!  It will be a fitting finale to a fantastic year of RMLA events in the City of Sails. 

Since the last Newsletter, Justice Whata has delivered this year’s Salmon Lecture at a sell-out event hosted at Russell McVeagh.  His Honour’s thoughtful and thought provoking presentation was entitled ‘Environmental Rights in a Time of Crisis: The Canterbury Experience and will be published in Vol 9 of RMT&P. 

Our very active Young RMLAs co-organised and ran with the Environment Court a moot competition featuring eight teams.  The final, presided over by retired Environment Judge Whiting, was won by Anna McConachy and Jess Riddell (Russell McVeagh).  Congratulations to all involved in this fantastic event, which we hope will become an annual occurrence for younger practitioners. Check out the award ceremony here.

Last but not least, the Young RMLA (yes them again!) launched a trial professional mentoring programme on 12 November 2012, matching up 17 senior professionals with younger practitioners.  Thanks to Bell Gully for hosting that, and for the input of their HR Manager Christine McGregor.

As we all wind down for Christmas here (yeah right!), preparing for a promised balmy summer (we hope), I want to give a special thanks to our outgoing Chair, Rachel Devine, for her commitment to the Auckland Branch over the past years.  She goes on to bigger and brighter things, and will be sorely missed by the remaining committee members!

All the best to our Auckland members for the holiday season.  Relax and restore – the Unitary Plan awaits!

Waikato – Lachlan Muldowney

After a busy 2011 which had the Waikato Branch hosting the RMLA conference, 2012 has been a little more sedate.  The Waikato branch has hosted two significant events, one of which was a workshop on expert conferencing and the other was an RMLA road show on the TAG report.  These were both well attended.  The branch also co-hosted an event with NZPI on Spatial Planning and RMA reforms. 

The branch will hold its Christmas function on Wednesday 12 December at The Bank.  The evening will kick-off with a short session of speed networking to allow members the opportunity to meet one-on-one with other branch members.

A special thank-you to those involved in organising and hosting these events, in particular Bronwyn Thompson and Shaun Plant.  Also, thank you to Karol Helmink for her support and assistance.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year as Chairman and look forward to the year ahead.

Queenstown/Central Otago – Jan Caunter

The Queenstown/ Central Otago Branch is still recovering from the conference held in Queenstown at the end of September. The Branch was delighted to host so many visitors from all over the country during the conference.

We have had some excellent seminars and workshops this year. Judge Newhook has visited the Branch twice, first to discuss expert conferencing with Branch members and the second visit to present a training session on expert evidence. We also enjoyed a presentation from TAG members, Phil Mitchell and Paul Majurey, back in August.

The focus has now turned to the forthcoming Xmas function on Thursday 6 December and the prospect of the long, hot summer ahead.

Otago / Southland – Chris Thomsen

The Branch was well represented at the annual conference at Queenstown.  Congratulations to the Queenstown/Central Otago Branch for putting together a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.  (Although their hospitality confirmed to me that conference attendance and in particular active participation in the social program is a young man’s game.) 

In Dunedin, well over 50 people attended the TAG Seminar led by Phil Mitchell and Paul Majurey.  As well as the excellent turn out from members, it was pleasing to see a number of students from the University of Otago Masters of Planning course attend as well.  We intend to continue to extend invitations to the Masters students to give them some exposure to the professional community in Dunedin.

We are more or less in hibernation now until after the Christmas break.  In the New Year we are looking to host another get together in Oamaru.  In addition we will keep an eye on the national roadshow program, as well as putting on locally-focussed events as part of our continuing commitment to providing professional development opportunities locally.  If anyone has any ideas, suggestions or wishes to host or present a seminar or workshop just let us know.