President’s Report – February 2013

Dear Members

The year has well and truly started, and is shaping up to be a very full one, especially with potential work for the Legislation Committee as a result of the Central Government’s reform programme and other resource management initiatives.

Speaking of the Legislation Committee; Maree Baker-Galloway, Rachel Devine, Phil Gurnsey and James Gardner-Hopkins have done a fantastic job of pulling together all of the ideas, drafts and notes members have sent them on the Resource Management Reform Bill 2012 into a submission that will be filed by month’s end.

To those of you who may have missed out on contributing to that submission, don’t worry we are expecting the next phase with more substantive reforms to be preceded by a discussion document in the near future.  Your contributions that reflect our broad geographic, professional and institutional base will again be sought and most welcome as they provide strength and credibility to our submissions.

The new National Committee has really gelled and are already busy working on a number of new initiatives.  The Roadshow team of Phil and Maree have been working up a range of topical programmes which will be offered to regional branches.  Topics include:

  1. Traffic 101 from Tony Penny of Traffic Design Group – a flyer with dates will be coming out very soon;
  2. Planning for Natural Hazards post Christchurch Earthquakes;
  3. Subdivisions 101;
  4. The National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil;
  5. Prosecutions – a caselaw update; and
  6. The Board of Inquiry and Direct Referral processes.

One of our most successful Roadshow events last year, the Expert Conferencing Workshop initiative staged jointly with the Environment Court has been reported back.  Dave Serjeant of Merestone Ltd and Acting Principal Environment Judge Newhook have compiled a record of the key learnings to emerge from the series of eleven workshops.  The events proved to be a valuable two-way communication, both from the perspective of the Court being able to directly hear feedback on process experiences and for the attendees, many of whom were from technical professions and would be contributing from an expert’s position.  This report can be found on the Association’s website. https://www.rmla.org.nz/news/view/id/72

The Association’s objectives, broad membership and organisational capability were instrumental in the success of this joint project with the Environment Court.  Particular thanks go to Acting Principal Environment Judge Newhook, Environment Commissioner Ross Dunlop and to Dave Serjeant for their contributions, and for fronting all of the workshops throughout the country.

An exciting new development this month has been the establishment of social media platforms for the Association (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter).  This initiative has been championed by Rachel Devine and Phil Gurnsey and builds on feedback received over the past year.  It is expected to have a number of benefits including increased communication capacity, raising the profile of the Association, and reaching a potentially wider membership.  It is anticipated that this will particularly assist with the Association’s image and accessibility with younger professionals. 

The social media platforms are intended to be complementary to the RMLA website as it is intended they will channel existing members and future members to the range of resources available on the RMLA website.

This month saw the inaugural Symposium of the RMLA Academic Advisory Group in Auckland which was established and convened by Trevor Daya-Winterbottom; Waikato Academic and, chair of the RMLA Editorial Board.  It was attended by academics from the New Zealand University Law schools who discussed current and ongoing research and opportunities for disseminating scholarship within New Zealand.  Kate Barry-Piceno represented the National Committee at the Symposium and also took the opportunity to promote the Association and the membership benefits and opportunities to students by way of conference discounts, scholarships, mentoring and networking with more senior RMA professionals.

It has been great to see Martin Williams take up the challenge to use the “Obiter” for the discussion of resource management matters of the moment.  Martin has penned an item on Affordable Housing.  I commend Martin’s article to you as an easy to read insight into this very topical and complex issue.  See https://www.rmla.org.nz/obiter/view/id/25

The Association is in good heart financially with the 2012 Queenstown Conference positively contributing to the Association’s balance sheet.  Feedback from the conference has been forwarded to the Taranaki Branch team working on this year’s theme of “Black and White Gold – Does it all Glitter?” to help shape the programme.  There has been an excellent response to the call for papers that fit the conference theme and as a consequence the Conference team have made good progress with the programme.  In case you have not yet done so, please reserve 26 – 28 September 2013 as the conference dates. https://www.rmla.org.nz/events/view/id/99

I hope you enjoy reading this month’s Newsletter and the new items on the website.

Blair Dickie