DOCUMENT

O T A G O L AW M A G A Z I N E  13 environment (rather than commercial banks) and eventually I was invited to join them. That was how I first came in contact with the Environmental Defence Society. A couple of years later Russell McVeagh invited me to join their newly formed resource management team. New Zealand’s revolutionary new environmental legislation, in the form of the Resource Management Act 1991, was coming into force and the firm rightly predicted an exponential growth in resource management legal work. Little did I know that my career would see the legislation go full circle and that I would be closely involved in the development of its successor. Working for what was then known as ‘The Factory’, was extremely hard work, but I learnt an enormous amount under the mentorship of Derek Nolan. In the mid-1990s I followed my then husband to South Africa. I couldn’t practice law and had to find another use for my legal skills, so moved into environmental policy. It was exciting times; Nelson Mandela had been sworn in as President the previous year and the country was going through a massive change from apartheid to a black-led government. There was a shortage of professionals in the country due to ‘white flight’ and my skills were in demand. I worked on many fascinating projects, ranging from provincial-wide strategic environmental assessments to local economic development initiatives. Returning to Auckland in the early 2000s (with a young daughter) was a turning point in my career. At that time, it was not generally possible to work part-time in a professional position and – because I wanted to be a hands- on mother – I did not want to take on a demanding full-time role. With no suitable work available I had to look to creating my own job. It was during this time that I reconnected with the Environmental Defence Society (EDS), which had recently been revived after a period of dormancy. This was in the wake of a court decision that consented development of the southern headland of Pakiri Beach, one of the few remaining undeveloped beaches within the Auckland region. On discussing the problematic decision with colleagues, Gary Taylor had decided that the country needed an environmental litigant, and he reconstituted the Society. At that time, New Zealand was undergoing a huge wave of coastal development, with stretches of wild coastlines and lakesides becoming bespoiled by urban development. One of my early tasks for the EDS was to undertake an investigation into coastal development. In 2009, I published my first book Castles in the sand: What’s happening to the New Zealand coast? Writing a book was a mammoth task but gave me a great sense of achievement. I subsequently wrote a book on human interaction with dolphins ( Dolphins of Aotearoa (2013)), and in 2016 an environmental history of the Hauraki Gulf, as well as numerous policy reports. As the EDS gradually built up a track record, we managed to raise more funding and employ additional people. But it was very hard work in the early days, when we were often not taken seriously and frequently ran out of money. It was also a lot of fun. My policy research has led me to travel widely around the country and overseas, and to spend time in some very beautiful places such as the Mackenzie Country, Banks Peninsula and Fiordland. I have also interviewed many fascinating people and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to gain some insights into their lives. In 2019, my career turned full circle when I was appointed to the Resource Management Review Panel to provide recommendations to the Minister for the Environment on new environmental legislation for the country. I am hopeful that this will be a significant change in the way we care for our natural environment. Aotearoa New Zealand is a fantastic country and I feel very privileged to have been born here and to be able to live and work here. I hope other Otago law graduates will be inspired to follow careers in environmental law, which can be both extremely interesting and rewarding. F E A T U R E “I started out on the traditional path of working as a junior lawyer in a corporate law firm.”

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy NjA0NA==