RMLA Regional Reports to 2016 Annual General Meeting

Below are the Regional Reports read at this year’s Annual General Meeting held on 24 September 2016 in Nelson.

Auckland – Francelle Lupis

The Auckland branch of the RMLA has had a full calendar of events this year, despite ongoing heavy workloads associated with Auckland’s proposed Unitary Plan.  The chance for members to take a breather to socialise and discuss the various highs and lows of that process at regular intervals has meant that events have continued to be very well attended even during busy times.

A key focus of the Auckland Committee has been to balance our year with sessions that appeal across the entirety of our multi-disciplinary membership.  With that in mind, we started the year with a walking tour of Wynyard Quarter, continuing a tradition of getting out and about to see some of Auckland’s transformational projects taking shape.  Various overviews throughout the year have covered Special Housing Areas (which will now be with us for some time yet) and the Panel’s progress with the Unitary Plan (now finally released and into the appeal phase).  We have also targeted the more technically, legally, and politically minded amongst us with sessions on Air Quality, the Resource Management Act as public law, and the Mayoral Candidates Panel respectively.

In October we are hosting the National Roadshow on Heritage Law and Policy, presented by a Geraldine Baumann of Heritage New Zealand, at the request of many local members.  Heritage continues to be a hot topic, related to the debate regarding housing affordability and what it is required to ensure that Auckland remains a liveable city.

The Young-RMLA sub-committee has also continued to increase its activity and has hosted three events, a Local Government Act 101 briefing, an update on various projects happening around town (“What are you doing?”), and a panel session to discuss career options beyond private practice.

A highlight of this year’s programme was the 15th annual Salmon Lecture presented by Ms Rachel de Lambert of Boffa Miskell. Rachel spoke to her paper on Auckland’s Urban Form: Quality Compact? An immersive introduction to the importance of form, density and height in urban planning to a full house at the Northern Club, where those in attendance were treated to a very insightful lecture, as well as the most impressive visual presentation we’ve seen so far.

 The Auckland Committee is now devoting much of its time to compiling the draft programme for next year’s RMLA Conference: #Liveable – are we there yet?  There are challenges ahead for liveability in Auckland and at a National level – housing affordability, transport and infrastructure amongst them.  These will no doubt lead to thought-provoking sessions.  But we are perhaps most excited to show off some of our favourite places to delegates, not least the view from our conference venue located right in the heart of Auckland’s stunning new waterfront development.

Some well deserved thank yous are required to round out this report.  Firstly the Committee is grateful to those firms and organisations who have hosted us throughout the year and to those who have offered their time and resources to present sessions, moderate panels and conduct tours.

The Committee and I would like to particularly thank Karol Helmink for her help and support throughout the year (and especially for continuing to put up with us!) and Rikki Stancich for her energy and hard work.  We are also grateful for the experienced efforts of Rachel Cook who is working closely with us to prepare for next year’s conference.

The Auckland Committee has been actively expanding in preparation for an increased level of activity organising the 2017 Conference, and enthusiasm is high!  So a special thank you from me to the current Committee for all their work this year – Natasha Garvan, Rob O’Connor, Jill Gregory, Stuart Houghton, Bianca Tree, Hannah Edwards, Philip Comer, Kim Hardy, Sharon Dines, Antonia Smith, and Michael Doesburg.  Thank you also to the members who have departed this year – Peter Hall, Leigh Zeigler and Sarah Anderton.

Northland – Julian Dawson

The Northland Branch has hosted two Roadshows this year.  Brownyn Carruther’s presentation in November on recent High Court decisions on notification/non-notification was very popular.  Since then the “two puppets” of the receiving environment and affected persons have been frequently recited in discussions on the topic.

In May, the Natural Hazards roadshow was well received with strong attendance, as a topical and interesting presentation.

The branch’s finances are healthy.  We look forward to the next roadshow programs.

I would like to thank Whangarei District Council for its support in providing a venue and catering for our functions.

Bay of Plenty – Paula Golsby

Since its 2015 Annual Report the Bay of Plenty branch has held a number of local events and is currently thinking about future events and attracting new members.

On 27 October 2015 the Bay of Plenty branch hosted the Development Contributions Roadshow, which was held at the Cooney Lees Morgan office in Tauranga.  On 10 December 2015 the Bay of Plenty branches of the RMLA and New Zealand Planning Institute (‘NZPI’) co-hosted their annual social event; a quiz night held at Brew in Tauranga.

In March 2016 we hosted the Hazards Roadshow, ‘Mitigate or Adapt? Navigating the Evolving Natural Hazards Regulatory Landscape’ presented by Marje Russ and Maurice Hoban.  The session was concluded with a local perspective on natural hazards, offered by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Natural Hazard Advisor, Mark Ivamy.  The evening was well attended and the presentations generated great discussion.

This year the Bay of Plenty Branches of the RMLA and NZPI decided to hold their annual social event mid-year to avoid the busy Christmas social season. The event was held at the Beca office in Tauranga and was a themed cook-off which tested the french language skills, team work, and kitchen talents of those that attended!  The social event was popular and well attended.

The Bay of Plenty branch of the RMLA is currently in the process of making arrangements to host the Heritage Roadshow event and have been preparing a survey for our members to gather information on the nature and frequency of events sought.

The Bay of Plenty Branch is also due to have its AGM and the committee currently propose to hold the AGM in conjunction with the next event for members (date to be confirmed).

The current Bay of Plenty branch committee members are Brad Coombs, Cushla Loomb, David Greaves, Mary Hill, Natalie Rutland, Nick Swallow (Treasurer), Paula Golsby (Chair), Reuben Hansen, Richard Turner (Secretary).

Hawke’s Bay – Scott Smith

In the Hawke’s Bay we have a small but enthusiastic membership.  We also enjoy the benefit of the roadshows organised by the national association, and host as many as are available.  That support, and the learning opportunities it provides are very much appreciated.  On behalf of our local members I’ll take this opportunity to say a sincere thank you to the association, the various presenters that travel here, and Karol for helping to arrange it all.  Importantly, a thank you is due to the wider membership of the association.  It is your support that helps bringing the roadshow to the provinces possible.

The branch committee for 2016 is: Scott Smith (Chair), Charlotte Drury, Angela Mc Flynn, and Janeen Kydd-Smith.  If there is anyone else interested in joining the committee, or with idea they would like to see implemented by it, please contact me.

Waikato – Joan Forret

The Waikato Branch has continued to grow in 2016 with currently just over 101 full members.  Our finances have remained stable over the year and we are able to hold events at prices that enable multiple attendees from many organisations.

We have hosted 4 seminars this year.  The update session from Judge Newhook was well attended and was a good opportunity for an ‘after 5’ social gathering His Honour and Environment Court staff.

The Natural Hazards Roadshow was also very well attended with a different audience than usual.  The breakfast session presentation was well received and generated many questions.

In July the Branch hosted the case law Roadshow presented by Bronwyn Carruthers.  This was also an excellent session drawing an audience of over 50 people for a breakfast seminar.  The seminar notes are an excellent resource and Bronwyn presented the material clearly and very helpfully.

Recently, we enjoyed a breakfast presentation from Dr Mike Stevens who is promoting a more consistent methodological approach to the assessment of Natural Character.  Mike has developed his thinking into a seminar presentation, drawing on professional discussions with other landscape architects.  We were fortunate to have an expert panel that was willing to pose questions to Mike and to engage in useful debate.  The panel comprised Rebecca Ryder, Dave Mansergh and Graeme Silver and I would again like to thank all 4 experts on behalf of the Branch for contributing to an excellent session that again had close to 50 attendees who were drawn from a different group of the membership.

In the first week of October we host the Heritage Roadshow and there has already been considerable interest expressed regarding that event.

The Branch’s informal committee, which comprises Shaun Plant, Stephen Colson and myself, is looking at organising a seminar on the “Healthy Rivers Wai Ora” Plan Change that is soon to be publicly notified by Waikato Regional Council.  That Plan Change is already proving to be extremely controversial and will be a “must attend” session for many members.

On behalf of the Branch I again wish to thank the National Committee for its efforts in organising the various roadshows.  It is difficult to dream up presentations that will appeal to a wide audience and it is always a relief to receive notice of a National Roadshow seminar that has been organised by someone else. Finally, I wish to thank my secretary, Lee van Houten, who provides the bulk of the Branch’s administrative support and also my own team at Harkness Henry (Jaime Lomas, Simon Schofield, Robert Davies and Pervinder Kaur) who assist with organisation of Branch events.

Taranaki – Cam Twigley

The Taranaki branch of the RMLA has had a busy year to date hosting a combination of national roadshows and our own locally organised events.

The first function in 2016 was a locally organised tour of the recently opened Novotel New Plymouth Hobson Hotel.  Many of our members were involved in various capacities in the resource management process so it was interesting to hear the different perspectives and the learnings.  We had a tour of the Hotel finished off with the obligatory drinks and canapes.

We have also held the Natural Hazards and Heritage Roadshows.  The Heritage Roadshow was of particular interest to our local practitioners given the discussion of the recent Heritage NZ vs Greymouth Petroleum case.  We appreciated the honesty that Geraldine Baumann brought to the discussion.

Our most recent locally organised event was a breakfast tour of the New Plymouth District Council’s new recycling facility.  This was a fascinating insight into how the waste we create is managed by the Council.  An interesting anecdote was of the citizen who stuffed a sheep carcass into his recycling bin in the hope that it could be recycled.

One of the satisfying aspects of the year has been the number of new faces from a variety of backgrounds that have turned up to our events along with the crusty nucleus of RMLA veterans.  This has made for some good questioning and debate.  With other organisations not being particularly active in the Taranaki Region, having a local RMLA branch provides a real focal point for getting local practitioners together.  We also sincerely appreciate the roadshow presenters that are willing to travel to Taranaki and present.  We have been told our hospitality is the best!

I would like to thank the hard working committee members particularly Lauren Wallace (Secretary) and Lauren O’Byrne (Treasurer) who along with myself have been committee members since the inception of the Branch in 2010.  Also thank you to Karol Helmink for her assistance with organising events.

The Taranaki branch committee for 2016 is: Lauren Wallace (Secretary), Lauren O’Byrne (Treasurer), Victoria McKay, Sarah Ongley and Cam Twigley (Chairman).

Wellington – Nicky McIndoe

The Wellington branch of the RMLA has had an interesting and busy year hosting a variety of seminars and social events.  The Wellington branch has maintained a steady diet of seminars and events for its members. The year started with the seminar “What’s hot and what’s not” – focusing on the Resource Management Act reforms.  In April the branch hosted the Natural Hazards Roadshow. June saw a very popular seminar on the logistical difficulties associated with consenting a wharf upgrade on the Chatham Islands (adaptive management required on a number of fronts). In August, Mark St Clair kindly presided over a wine tasting competition enjoyed by all.

The 2016 year is not yet at an end though.  Between now and Christmas the Wellington Committee will be hosting an Environment Court ‘tips and tricks’ evening (arranged by the Young RMLA members), an opportunity to meet the Wellington Mayoral Candidates, the Heritage Law and Policy Roadshow and a pre-Christmas social evening. These diverse offerings reflect the interests of our members and are sure to be popular.

The Committee looks forward to again hosting the Salmon Lecture in 2017, and is currently undertaking initial preparations for this. This lecture invariably attracts a broad audience and causes us to reflect on the societal, environmental, economic or cultural considerations which shape our work.  We are pleased that the lecture will again be held in Wellington.

Many of the events organised by the Wellington branch of the RMLA have been jointly hosted with the local branch of the New Zealand Planning Institute. These events have provided opportunities for continued development for members, but have also provided opportunities for resource management specialists to meet and discuss matters outside of the confines of a Court, council hearing, or particular file.  The committee has actively sought to include a wide range of resource management professionals, both in the committee and when hosting events. The younger members of the committee have brought a fresh and energetic approach to the year’s programme, demonstrating that the future of the profession is in good hands. The committee continues to welcome all offers from Wellington law firms, consultancies and other organisations involved in resource management to host events in 2017.

A number of long standing committee members have this year left to pursue endeavours overseas.  I would like to thank Maia Wikaira who was my co-chair for 2 and a half years, but is now studying at Stanford.  I would also like to thank Lisa Bazalo (past secretary) and Andrew Schriffer (past treasurer) for their contributions over the last few years, and wish them the best of luck on their travels.  Finally, I would like to thank Karol Helmink for her help and support of the Wellington Branch.

The Wellington branch committee for 2016 is: David Allen, Helen Anderson, Mark Ashby (NZPI representative), Claire Fell (Secretary), Aidan Cameron, James Gardner-Hopkins,  Nicky McIndoe (Chair), Matt Pemberton, Evie Rainey, Angela Rego, Kierra Krumdieck (Treasurer), and Katherine Viskovic.

Nelson – Antoinette Besier

The Nelson-Marlborough Branch has had a very active year for two main reasons:

  • organisation of the conference;
  • lunchtime seminar series.

The branch is delighted to be hosting in Nelson for the first time the RMLA conference.  While the organisation of the conference has involved a lot of extra work for the local conference organising committee it has also been a fun process and has promoted the collegiality of local RM professionals.  We are also very proud of what we have achieved.

The lunchtime seminar series has proven to be very popular.  Seminars are held every two months and have addressed a wide range of topical matters such as case law developments, law reform and the assessment of natural character.  Turnout has been very high.  It has been great to have local professionals step forward and offer to present seminars.  The seminars have been co-hosted by the NZPI local branch.  Seminars have also been ‘skyped’ to members in Blenheim.

The branch held its AGM on 31 March in Nelson.  Jane Bayley continues in her role as treasurer; a role that she has fulfilled for many years superbly.  At the AGM Dave Petrie stepped down as branch secretary and Paul Harrington took up the reins.  Tragically Dave Petrie passed away a few months later in July.  Dave was a valuable member of the local ‘team’ and we all miss him.

The branch has hosted nationwide seminars on heritage and natural hazard planning.  Both events have been well attended.  Members from the West Coast and Marlborough often spend a lot of time (and money) travelling to these events and have commented about whether they could host seminars in these areas in the future.

The Nelson-Marlborough Branch committee is made up of the following people:

  • Jane Bayley
  • Antoinette Besier
  • Quentin Davies
  • Paul Harrington
  • Warwick Heal
  • Fiona McLeod
  • Jackie McNae
  • Don Turley
  • Gerald Praat
  • Rachel Reese

All in all, we have a healthy active local branch.  I’d like to thank Karol Helmink on behalf of the local branch for her excellent support.

Otago/Southland – Rachel Brooking

The Otago / Southland Branch is almost back on its feet after the 2014 RMLA Conference and the 2016 NZPI Conference both hosted in Dunedin.

We have cribbed off the National Committee and enjoyed national roadshows on heritage (thanks to Geraldine Baumann and Jonathan Howard), and on natural hazards planning (thanks to Marje Russ and Maurice Hoban).

 In addition we have held a very well attended lunchtime session on the role of the expert planning witness with amusing and thoughtful presentations from John Kyle and Stephen Christensen.  This session also served as an AGM.  We also nabbed Marie Brown when she was in town to give a seminar on biodiversity.  As ever thanks to Karol for her help in organising these and to my wonderful PA Jess Dunn for helping at the southern end.

A young RMLA group has been established and they have regular lunchtime / coffee meetings where one of their number presents.  The young organisers have appreciated the support from Karol and the more established groups in Auckland etc.

The Committee has also been busy making a nomination for one of the RMLA awards and co-opted Len Andersen to assist.  Our legal academics have also assisted in this endeavour.

The current branch Committee is: David Campbell (Clutha District Council); Pene Williams (Department of Conservation); Phil Page (Gallaway Cook Allan); Michael Garbett (Anderson Lloyd); Carmen Taylor (Golders); Kirsten Tebbutt (Mitchell Partnerships); and Rachel Brooking (Anderson Lloyd).