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Appointment to the Environment Court

19 April 2004 Media Statement

Appointment to the Environment Court

Associate Justice Minister Margaret Wilson today announced the appointment of Aucklander Marlene Oliver as an Environment Commissioner.

Marlene Oliver will replace Commissioner Bob Priest who died in January of this year after a brief illness.

A former County Planner for Rodney County Council, Marlene Oliver has had 30 years experience in planning and resource management. Her experience has included plan preparation and policy work, resource consents and multi-disciplinary projects.

For the past 16 years she has practised as a planning consultant with a range of government and private clients. She is also director of a company providing resource management related education services, and an Independent Commissioner with Auckland City Council.

“Marlene Oliver’s appointment to the busy Auckland Court will help maintain the Court’s momentum in reducing the number of outstanding cases and accelerating the time between filing and completion,” Margaret Wilson said.

Questions and Answers

What is the role of Environment Commissioners?

Commissioners preside in the Environment Court, usually with a Judge of that Court. The Environment Court considers applications and appeals under the Resource Management Act 1991 and has wide-ranging jurisdiction under the Act. It also has some powers under other legislation. There is provision for any number of Environment Commissioners or Deputy Environment Commissioners.

Environment Commissioners are appointed on a full-time or 75 per cent basis. Deputy Environment Commissioners’ time commitments vary, because they sit only during Environment Commissioners’ periods of absence. On average Deputy Environment Commissioners can expect to sit for about six weeks per year, although the work may extend to a total of 23 weeks.


What are the criteria for appointment?

Under s.253 of the Resource Management Act 1991, when considering whether a person is suitable to be appointed as an Environment Commissioner or Deputy Environment Commissioner of the Environment Court, the Minister of Justice shall have regard to the need to ensure that the Environment Court possesses a mix of knowledge and experience in matters coming before the Environment Court, including knowledge and experience in –

(a) Economic, commercial, and business affairs, local government, and community affairs
(b) Planning, resource management, and heritage protection
(c) Environmental science, including the physical and social sciences
(d) Architecture, engineering, surveying, minerals technology, and building construction
(da) Alternative dispute resolution processes
Matters relating to the Treaty of Waitangi and kaupapa Mäori.

In addition to these statutory requirements, applicants for appointment need generic qualities and skills such as mental agility, knowledge of the New Zealand community and cultural issues, acceptance of public scrutiny, sound judgement, and communication skills (oral and written).

Who makes the appointment?

Under s.254 of the Resource Management Act, appointments are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, after consultation with the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Mâori Affairs. Appointees may hold office for up to five years.

How was Marlene Oliver selected?

Expressions of interest were called for in 2002. In addition, in accordance with Cabinet directives, nominations were invited from a range of key Ministers, members of caucuses, and a number of professional organisations. In response to the advertising and nominations process, 167 applications were received. The Associate Minister of Justice approved a shortlist for interview and made the final selection from a list of names recommended by the interview panel. Marlene Oliver was one of the candidates found appointable as part of that process.


Who are the current Environment Commissioners and Deputy Environment Commissioners?

Commissioners:

Arthur Hackett, Mt Maunganui
Christopher Kerr, Christchurch
Paul Catchpole, New Plymouth
John Mills, Wellington
Ian McIntyre, Auckland
Russell Howie, Wellington
Charles Manning, Christchurch
Heather McConachy, Auckland
Diane Menzies, Christchurch
Jennifer Rowan, Paekakariki
Ross Dunlop, Auckland
Kevin Prime, Kawakawa
Sheila Watson, Christchurch


Deputy Commissioners

Robyn Grigg, Akaroa
Owen Borlase, Dunedin
Bruce Gollop, Whangarei

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