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RMLA Awards Report 2012 : Citations

RMLA Awards 2012 Citations

I am very honoured to be standing here today to present the RMLA Awards for 2012.  The awards provide significant recognition of excellence in the profession and recognition amongst our peers.

Bal Matheson is co-convenor of the awards sub-committee and he and I were both delighted at the standard and calibre of the award nominations received this year. 

Needless to say, decision making was tough this year.

The Publication Award

The RMLA makes awards for publications which enable a better or more complete understanding of resource management law, theory and practice by the resource management community or interested general public.  These may be in academic, technical or other industry journals, or texts or other publications used by the resource management profession or broader public, – at the discretion of the National Committee.

The Publication award has been assessed by a sub-committee of the awards sub-committee.

I am delighted to announce that the winner is the Environmental and Resource Management Law: Fourth Edition, Editor Derek Nolan.

This edition has made substantial and significant updates to the previous edition and two new chapters on Climate Change and Landscape and Visual are included for the first time.  The work provides a comprehensive introduction to modern environmental law, its sources and institutions.  Along with a detailed analysis of the Act, a wide range of topics are addressed. 

The book was described by the committee as being comprehensive, easy to read and navigate, and an outstanding reference textbook that will enhance the understanding of the RMA within and beyond the profession.  Whilst the target audience is primarily legal practitioners and other professions working in environmental and resource management law, it will have broader relevance to students and educational institutions. 

There are 17 authors of this work who have all put in an extraordinary effort to produce such a successful work.

I’d like to invite Derek Nolan, as editor, to accept the award.

The Project Award

The RMLA makes awards for projects which make a significant contribution to the development of best practice and the implementation of the RMA’s purpose and principles.

The Project award has also been assessed by a sub-committee of the awards sub-committee.

I am pleased to announce that the sub-committee, led by Bal Matheson, has selected Beca and the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (also known as the SCIRT Alliance) as the winners of the Project Award this year.

The project is a Multi-Criteria Assessment Tool developed by the Beca planning team to assist SCIRT in selecting preferred rebuild options for the city’s earthquake damaged roads, fresh water, wastewater and stormwater networks.

The tool was developed from a recognised need to ensure resource management principles are taken into account early on in the design process for rebuild schemes.

The MCA had to provide a consistent, measurable and transparent process to justify the identification and eventual selection of the preferred rebuild options.  The tool is tailored specifically to address a number of easily measureable matters that would normally be included in a MCA, including project objectives, the effective provision and delivery of services, economic (non-cost) issues, and the ability to coordinate/align works with other projects.

The tool was described by the committee as being an innovative, pragmatic and practical solution developed under extreme time and emotional pressure.  It has provided a significant contribution towards the Christchurch rebuild by streamlining RMA processes.

I would like to invite Christine Ralph of the Beca planning team to the stage to accept the award on behalf of Beca and SCIRT.

The Outstanding Person Award

The Association occasionally makes awards for outstanding individual contributions to the law, theory and practice of resource management.

I am delighted to announce that the winner of the Outstanding Person Award for 2012 is Dr Kenneth Aiken Palmer.

Dr Palmer has impeccable academic credentials.  He studied law at Auckland University, Harvard University and the University of Virginia.  He was appointed to the faculty of law at the University of Auckland in 1972 and since that time has made an enormous contribution to research, teaching, law reform and legal practice in the fields of planning/resource management law and local government law.

His achievements include contributions to, and authorship of, a multitude of texts.  His editorial leadership in the area of environmental and resource management law is evidenced by his General Editorship of the New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law from its conception in 1997 until the present day.  He has also contributed a prodigious quantity of articles, case-notes and commentary on topical resource management issues in the LexisNexis Resource Management Bulletin since it began in 1994.  He has written many other articles and commentary for journals and other publications in New Zealand and internationally.

Dr Palmer commands the respect of colleagues as evidenced by invitations to address local and international conferences and countless references to his work in other academic writing;

  • of the judiciary – as evidenced by many references to his writings in judgements and invitations to address judicial symposia; and
  • of the profession – as evidenced by the number of his ex-students who have gone on to become leading practitioners and judges; and
  • by deference to his wealth of knowledge by practitioners who often seek his counsel on difficult matters of law.

It is no exaggeration to say that Dr Palmer is widely regarded as the “guru” of resource management and local government law in New Zealand.

Dr Palmer has also contributed at the “coal face” of legal practice, with involvement in litigation as advisor or counsel in many cases, including in the High Court and Court of Appeal.  His opinion, advice and support has been relied upon in other areas of litigation, including in relation to heritage protection, aquaculture, and marina development.

As a teacher of resource management and local government law Dr Palmer has gained the respect and affection of more than a generation of law students.

Dr Palmer is unable to be here with us today as he is overseas on academic business.  His award will be collected on his behalf by the Honourable Peter Salmon QC.

The Principal Judge John Bollard Lifetime Commemorative Award

This is an award presented to an individual to recognise their outstanding services to the resource management profession over the course of the individual’s lifetime career. 

This is an award that would only be expected to be given out to exceptional individuals and on occasion, rather than in any particular year.  

It would be expected there would be many years it would not be awarded.

I am delighted to announce that the winner of the award is Professor Peter Skelton.

Professor Skelton’s career has evolved through a number of different stages and has encompassed the full range of roles: lawyer, judge, academic and independent commissioner.  It is a career of considerable length and impressive variety within the New Zealand resource management field.

Professor Skelton’s legal career started as a law clerk in the Auckland office of Rennie Cox and Garlick in 1959, while attending university.  For almost 13 years he practiced law as a litigator, based in Hamilton.  From 1965 – 1975 he was a partner in the form of Harkness Henry and Co, and from 1975 to 1978 he was a barrister sole.  Much of this work involved town and country planning and environmental matters.

While working in Hamilton, Professor Skelton was a Council Member for the Hamilton District Law Society Council and was Joint Secretary of the 1969 New Zealand Law Society Centennial Conference.

In 1978, Professor Skelton was appointed as a Stipendiary Magistrate and Chairman of the No.3 Division of the Planning Tribunal, subsequently renamed as District Court Judge and Planning Tribunal Judge.  Professor Skelton became the first Tribunal Judge to be based in the South Island (Christchurch) expanding a judiciary then centred on Auckland and Wellington.

Since his appointment, Professor Skelton has made a very substantial contribution to the judicial law on planning and resource management.  The Environment Court estimates that he issued about 50 decisions per year for the length of his 22 years on the bench.  This amounts to over 1,000 decisions.

Major cases he presided over include the Clyde Dam appeals; the Kaitorete Spit sand mining application; the Mataura, Ahuriri, Rakaia, and Buller River Conservation Order Inquiries; the Port Chalmers, Shakespeare Bay and Granity jetty port developments; the challenge to the validity of the Auckland Metropolitan Urban Limits; the Doubtful Sound water export proposal; the establishment of the Rastus Burn ski field in the Remarkables, consideration of subdivisions within air noise contours of Christchurch Airport; and the Christchurch metropolitan refuse landfill appeals in the early 1980s.

Professor Skelton retired from the bench in 2000 after 22 years of service.  In 2001 he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for Services to Environmental Law.

Upon retiring from the bench, Professor Skelton took up a position as Associate Professor at Lincoln University, where he taught for 5 years until 2005.  Upon his retirement from teaching, Professor Skelton was appointed as an Honorary Professor of Lincoln University.  He also undertook an increasing number of appointments as an Independent Hearings Commissioner.

In April 2010, Professor Skelton was appointed by the Government as one of the Environment Canterbury Commissioners to replace the Canterbury Regional Council.  He commenced that role on 1 May 2010 and will continue in that role until the end of 2013.

One of the main reasons the Government stated for the appointment of Commissioners to Environment Canterbury was the desire to improve the management of freshwater within the Region.  As part of implementing that objective, Professor Skelton was instrumental in bringing certainty to the planning framework by making the Natural Resources Regional Plan operative in 2011.  Subsequently Professor Skelton has been heavily involved in the development and implementation of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, which seeks to adopt a more collaborative and efficient approach to the management of freshwater.

The fact that Professor Skelton continues to play a major role in the resource management field more than 50 years after first commencing work as a practitioner demonstrates a true lifetime contribution to the field.

Andrea Rickard

RMLA Awards Convenor

To view a copy of the Beca article, follow this link here