RMLA Bay of Plenty : Implementation Road Show


The purpose of the RMLA’s implementation National Road show is to focus on how to successfully apply new environmental and planning law on the ground and create a better future.  Each panel will take a deep dive into critical factors for successful implementation and fresh perspectives for implementation approaches under a new environmental management system, drawing on local knowledge and experience to generate ideas of national application.

Resource management reform is currently front of mind for all practitioners, and also for many members of the public.  The conversation so far has been heavily focused on the design of new legislation; the words on the page. However, the failure of the RMA to live up to expectations cannot just be chalked down to the statutory framework.  Implementation failure is a key contributor, some consider the main contributor.  Some of the current regime’s central features – like environmental limits and Te Ao Māori concepts – are also areas where implementation is most challenging.  And these concepts are signalled to have an increased role under the new law.  This means that if implementation is not tackled in parallel to preparing new legislation there is a real risk we will continue to see poor outcomes for the natural environment and development alike.


4:30pm-5:30pm panel discussion
5:45pm-6:30pm social time and informal discussion with the panellists

Speakers have been carefully selected across the country to provide a range of perspectives, from senior practitioners with extensive experience, through to rising stars at the middle of their career who will be tasked with implementing and interpreting the new system.


Reuben Fraser is the Consents Manager at Toi Moana, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, a position he has held since 2014. Reuben manages a team of 35 planners and administrators who work to protect and manage our environment for our community.

Reuben has 16 years’ experience working with the Resource Management Act and the resource consent process. During that time, Reuben has been directly involved in several significant (at least to him) consent processes such as the Rena, Port of Tauranga dredging, and Otakiri water bottling as well as regional planning processes. Reuben strives to find a pragmatic balance between meeting the requirements of legislation and planning documents, sustainably managing natural and physical resources, and providing customer service to the Bay of Plenty communities.

A recent focus for Reuben has been improving the relationship of the Regional Council with tangata whenua. Reuben sees involvement of tangata whenua in the consenting and planning processes as an area with significant potential for improvement albeit a challenging space to work in.

Reuben believes that public confidence in the Resource Management Act is so low that, even if it was possible, salvaging the Act is not worth the effort. Therefore, he is excited by some of the recommendations in the Randerson report and the upcoming RM reform. He believes that we all need to be flexible, agile, and ready for change.

James Hughes

James has a 20-year career in the infrastructure and environmental sectors, and works for engineering and environmental specialists, Tonkin & Taylor.  His work crosses infrastructure planning, natural hazard assessments, as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation. He leads T+T’s climate and resilience practice and has been involved in a range of important projects over recent years. These include the recent National Climate Risk Assessment, Deep South Challenge research, and was a member of MfE’s Climate Adaptation Technical Working Group.

Pia Bennett

Pia was 11 years old when she wrote and presented her first submission on behalf of some kuia from Matapihi and Whareroa. It was an experience that would shape her professional career pathway.. Pia’s experience working in the resource management sector now spans some 15+ years and has drawn a particular focus on coastal and wai māori – freshwater environments. Pia has strong educational foundations in applied science and kaupapa Maori practice. Pia is a certified RMA hearings commissioner and is presently the manager of the Environment & Natural Resource Management Unit at Te Rūnanga ō Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi. She has 3 tamariki, Pikirangi (12), Rakeiao (9) and Ahikaa (2).

Matt Allott

Matt is a Principal at Boffa Miskell and has extensive experience as both a project co-ordinator and a specialist consultant on a range of complex planning and design projects. He has a very good understanding of the legislative and political processes that influence the manner in which resources are managed, used and developed.  As a consequence he has developed a familiarity with the common challenges faced by resource users and administrators alike.


Madeleine Wright is an environmental barrister with experience in Courts of all levels, acting in precedent setting cases and for a range of clients.  She is also experienced at participating in national policy negotiations, and advising on and assisting with legislative processes.  Madeleine’s work is underpinned by a desire to see better outcomes on the ground for both the environment and Aotearoa’s communities – and so she can continue teaching her daughter Ngaia to surf and ski.

Natasha Garvan is a partner at Bell Gully in the environmental and resource management team. Her expertise includes providing strategic advice and consenting strategies for large scale projects, and implementing those strategies through plan change, designation, or consenting processes. She regularly appears as counsel at mediations and hearings. Natasha has an interest in “on the ground” initiatives which provide pathways to enhancing our environment in ways which add value to our economy. Natasha is recognised as a “Next Generation Partner” in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific for projects and resource management, and was included in NZ Lawyer’s inaugural “Rising Stars” list in 2020 which acknowledges up-and-coming starts in the legal profession who are committed to making a difference.

Please note this event is subject to being in Alert Level 1, and if not, may be held online or postponed until a later date.

When: 20 May 2021

Time: 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Where: Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chamber

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