President’s Report – April 2013

Dear Members

It has been a busy few months on the resource management scene with many of the government’s RMA reforms being progressed at pace.  This has been reflected in the tempo of work done on your behalf by the national committee, particularly the Legislation sub-committee.  This included the, preparation of a submission on the Resource Management Reforms 2012 Bill and the concurrent consideration and preparation of submissions on the Improving the Resource Management System – Discussion Document (https://www.rmla.org.nz/librarydoc) and the Freshwater Reforms – 2013 and Beyond (https://www.rmla.org.nz/librarydoc).

These substantial pieces of work have left little time for anything else for those involved and I would like to thank and acknowledge the commitment of those who took lead roles in their development, particularly, Maree Baker-Galloway, James Gardner-Hopkins and stalwart Martin Williams.  In addition to this, the Association was represented by Kitt Littlejohn, Chair of the Auckland branch at the Local Government and Environment Select Committee hearing earlier this month on the 2012 Reform Bill.  Thanks Kitt for stepping in for the Association at this time.

The Roadshow series is now well underway and in full swing.  I commend these events as opportunities to find out more about resource management matters that may be additional to your everyday interests, to attend as networking opportunities or if connected with the topic in focus, to contribute to the discussions that inevitably result.  Thanks to Phil Gurnsey and Maree Baker-Galloway for this work as well as Karol Helmink and branch chairs for the logistics.  Thanks also to those members who have put themselves forward to present roadshows on specialist topics.  It is these branch scale events that maintain the relevance of the Association to members and give it the vibrancy we enjoy.

Earlier this month the Executive met with Dr Paul Reynolds, Secretary for the Environment to renew the relationship we have with the Ministry and to seek ways of further contributing to the transition from the current resource management arrangements to more of a systems approach.  This initiative was well received and we have a commitment for a regular stakeholder liaison with senior staff.  I consider the Association’s reach through the branch structure, broad membership profile and objectives ideally suited to positively contribute over the coming years as the government’s resource management reforms are refined and rolled out.

I would like to take this opportunity to gratefully acknowledge the recent contribution of Doug Arcus to the Association as he steps down from the role as convenor of the Independent Hearings Commissioners Special Interest Group.  It was Doug’s initiative and vision to collectively develop a Practice Guide for the Conduct of Resource Management Hearings at First Instance.  The resulting guide (https://www.rmla.org.nz/librarydoc/index/category/2/order/date_desc/page/3) was reported to the membership in draft form at the 2011 Conference and it was positively received with only minor changes requested.  It is widely considered a valuable contribution to the evolution of best practice in resource management, a key tenet of the Association and included in our objectives.  The National Committee proposes to release the guide as a Discussion Document with the ultimate intention of having it accepted and posted as a Guideline on the recently re-launched QP website.

A big thanks also to Lauren Wallace and the 2013 Conference Committee and also to the Taranaki branch who continue developing the programme for this year’s conference in New Plymouth Black and White Gold – Does it all Glitter?  We are delighted with the news that Hon Amy Adams, Minister for the Environment has agreed to attend and make a presentation at this year’s conference.  With the topic being of national interest and the concurrent timing of the resource management reforms expected to be well into the Select Committee stage, it is shaping up to be a must attend event so remember to diary it in for 26 to 28 September.

Blair Dickie