RMLA Awards Report 2014 : Citations

Resource Management Law Association : Outstanding Person Award 2014
Ian Cowper

The RMLA Outstanding Person Award is made for outstanding contributions to the law, theory and practice of resource management.

This award is made to Ian Cowper for making an outstanding contribution: as a mentor, to the growth and development of others in the legal profession, and as a litigator, to the understanding and practice of resource management law.

Ian has made outstanding contributions to Resource Management law in New Zealand before it even had that name.  In 1971, Ian (along with Judge Newhook) was a law student representative on the newly minted Environmental Defence Society, with David AR Williams QC and others.  Through that organisation, he was involved in many of the seminal environmental cases in New Zealand, including Keam v Minister of Works and Development (CA), which prevented the abstraction of geothermal fluid that might have affected the Waimangu volcanic Valley.

Ian’s career has spanned four decades and five law firms.  His advice and legal arguments have directly affected communities throughout the country, and the indirect effect of those precedents is felt on an almost daily basis.  Ian was a director of EDS for a lot of its early life, and Gary Taylor advises that he gave the organisation a lot of direction and wise counsel.

Ian’s public interest in litigation also encompassed successfully obtaining Water Conservation Orders on the Mohaka, Rangitikei and a range of smaller North Island rivers.

Ian has worked across the range of New Zealand industries, including agricultural and horticultural enterprises, viticulture, forestry, timber treatment and processing, milk processing, mining, telecommunications and others.  He has acted for consent authorities in relation to contentious projects and been sought out by government for projects such as the contentious TCC gas fired power station, the Waterfront Stadium and Eden Park.  He has acted in relation to all scales of projects across the country.

Ian is courteous, fair and straightforward to deal with.  His reputation for fairness is such that Judge McElrea asked him to be amicus curiae in a particularly difficult criminal proceeding where the defendant was already represented.

Ian is recognised as an excellent teacher and mentor, who is patient and respectful with junior staff.  The letters in support of Ian’s nomination for this award recognise his contribution to the growth of many young staff members into capable lawyers.

Andrea Rickard
Awards Convenor

Ian Cowper’s acceptance speech

The Principal Judge R J Bollard Lifetime Commemorative Award 2014

This award recognises the outstanding services by an individual to the RMLA profession over the course of the individual’s lifetime career. This award is not given every year, and has in fact only been awarded twice, first in 2010 posthumously to its namesake, Principal Judge Bollard, and second in 2012 to Professor Peter Skelton.

The key criteria against which nominations are measured is that the person should be nationally and internationally recognised for their expertise in, and contribution, to the theory and practice of resource management in New Zealand over a prolonged period.

It is extremely fitting that we are able to present this award in the recipient’s home town, where he made a significant impact that is still apparent today.

I am proud to announce that this year’s award goes posthumously to Jim Guthrie, (James Kempster Guthrie) and it is wonderful that his father, wife, sons and grandsons are able to be present to receive the award in honour of Jim.

It was with considerable sadness that we farewelled Jim in January of this year. It is timely that this year’s conference is being held in Jim’s home town of Dunedin.  In fact it was this very room that we held his valedictory dinner in 2004, to mark his retirement from full time practice due to his illness with Parkinsons.

Jim joined the firm of Anderson Lloyd in 1972, becoming a partner in 1974. He was lead counsel on many seminal cases acting for NGOs, SOEs, individuals and developers. Jim’s passion for the environment led him to outstanding environmental advocacy, including leading cases in water conservation. Following his early retirement from partnership due to his illness, he remained as a consultant with the firm for several years and continued to take a keen interest in resource management case law developments up until his death.

Jim made an outstanding contribution to the theory and practice of resource management law, conservation and the community.  Jim was a member and Chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority, Chair of the New Zealand Law Society Resource Management (now Environmental) Law Committee and represented the legal profession on the Environment Court Liaison Committee. He was also a valued member of the National Committee of the Resource Management Law Association from 1999-2003. Jim was recognised by the Resource Management Law Association in 2004, receiving the ‘Outstanding Person of the Year’ award. In recognition of his services to so many branches of our community Jim was also recognised in the New Year’s Honours in 2005 when he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

We had several wonderful letters in support of Jim’s nomination for this award, but there is one in particular I will read out. Whilst I am a Dunedin girl, Andrew Cameron, then the Crown Solicitor in Wanganui, was my first mentor – and Jim was his. So when I had finished my time in Wanganui the circle led straight back to where I was ultimately aiming for.  I am grateful for my years with Andrew and I’m sure one day I’ll write similarly lovely words about him – and I am also grateful that I learned from a practitioner who was so heavily influenced by Jim, as well as then getting the opportunity to work with  Jim in Dunedin. 

Andrew wrote:

‘For my part I worked closely with Jim for many years in the late 80s and 90s.  Consequently I was able to observe how he worked at first hand.  His analytical skills (both legal and factual) were outstanding and those skills combined with his penetrating and persuasive advocacy made him pre-eminent in our field.  Further, his ability to cogently advise and gain the confidence of clients (including Ministers for the Crown), was a privilege to observe.

I worked with Jim in my formative professional years, and so gained a mentor unlike any other.  He was exacting and inspired the pursuit of excellence.  He was highly communicative and engaged.  I was required to participle in his critical and analytical thinking.  He was patient and generous in his encouragement.  Jim modelled intellectual rigour, clarity of thought, articulate argument, courage under fire and self-belief.  This was deeply empowering for a younger practitioner.  I am forever in his debt’.

As are we all.

Maree Baker-Galloway
National Committee

The Guthrie family

Front Row L to R: Ron (Jim’s dad), Barbara, Mary (Steve’s wife)
Back Row L to R: Steve, Rob, Si, James, Duncan (Si and James – son’s  – other 3 brothers).