We don’t stand apart. When briefed by a client we become an embedded part of the team. We engage our depth of knowledge and commercial acumen to swiftly identify what’s required from the outset – and set about delivering it. It’s not a revelatory approach, but it is refreshing, competitive and deeply efficient – and enjoyable.It has earned us a market reputation as a leader in our areas of expertise where we have established:
A prominent position on the “All of Government” external legal services panel.
A substantial public and private sector client base.
Regular appointments to nationally significant projects.
“They operate with a level of charisma in the room – certainly not order takers. They sense the gaps then find the solutions.”
To ensure our specialists are always where they’re needed, we operate as one firm with hubs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. We advise on a range of public and private sector projects.
On Friday 23 August, the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration announced her approval of the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan. The Plan was developed by Regenerate Christchurch under the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016. It outlines the vision and objectives for the future of the 600ha Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor (the former residential red zone), and directs the inclusion of an accompanying planning framework to enable the realisation of that Vision.
This area is significant in many ways for Christchurch/Otautahi. It has been and continues to be an area comprising sites and geographical features of cultural importance to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga. The area also comprises various other sites of historical significance to Christchurch/Ōtautahi and is traversed by the Ōtākaro Avon River which is itself a key feature of the city’s identity and urban framework. In developing this Plan Regenerate Christchurch has therefore sought to acknowledge the significance of this area to the wider Christchurch/Ōtautahi community, as well as working with the environmental constraints and opportunities that it provides.
The process has taken time and has not been without its challenges – the size and geographical constraints of the area, the various interests and feedback from stakeholders, community groups and members of the public, and the uncertainties particularly around future implementation have all been matters to carefully consider and address. The Plan’s vision and objectives and the accompanying framework for the Area are broad. While they have strong focus areas (including ecology, recreation, economic opportunity and community connection), they also seek to recognise that the regeneration of this Area will take time, and that new ideas, new technology and new activities which are not currently contemplated should be allowed to take place. The vision and objectives therefore operate as a touchstone against which future decisions can be made – ensuring a clear aspiration for the area while still allowing flexibility to adjust to a changing future.
The approval of the Plan by the Minister (and the Ombudsman’s recent finding as to its legal and evidential rigour) is a significant endorsement of the work done by the Regenerate Christchurch team on this project. Greenwood Roche lawyers, Lauren Semple and Rachel Murdoch have been privileged to advise Regenerate Christchurch on the development of this Plan, the exercise of its powers under the Act in respect of this and other projects, and its general regeneration mandate. It is extremely satisfying to see the Plan become operative and attention now turn to its implementation.
Greenwood Roche recently secured resource consent to re-develop an existing complex for Kāinga Ora–Homes and Communities in Mount Cook, Wellington
The new development will replace the original structures that were built in the 1950’s, with four new fit-for-purpose buildings that will provide long-stay accommodation for up to 218 social housing tenants.
Twenty of the units are to be reserved to accommodate residents receiving support through the Housing First programme. This is a government-led programme to house and support people who have been homeless for a long time, or are homeless and face multiple and complex issues. The development will also include a community space, a residents support space and on-site staff.
This re-development comes as part of a nationwide $5.6 billon build programme being undertaken by Kāinga Ora to address the housing shortages across New Zealand, but particularly in the biggest urban centres where those shortages are most acute.
Greenwood Roche's team on this project was led by Lauren Semple and Rachel Murdoch.
Greenwood Roche is assisting the Crown in the preparation and registration of Forestry Rights as part of the One Billion Trees Programme developed by the Government.
The Government has set a goal to plant one billion trees by 2028. Progress towards achieving this target is well underway.
The One Billion Trees Programme supports New Zealand’s commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change. By absorbing carbon dioxide, tree planting reduces the impact of greenhouse gases. As well as addressing the impacts of climate change, the Programme aims to create increased sustainable regional development, increased employment, optimise land use, support Māori values and aspirations, protect the environment and support New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy.
The programme involves the planting of both permanent trees and plantation forests. The Crown estimates that commercial foresters will plant 500 million trees by 2028. The Crown is issuing direct landowner grants and entering into partnership projects to help plant the other 500 million trees. For example, funding will be allocated to research and workforce initiatives. To help achieve the target, Crown Forestry is also entering into joint ventures and forestry rights to plant commercial forestry on privately owned land.
Greenwood Roche is involved with the preparation and registration of Forestry Rights over privately owned land. As at the end of November 2019, the Crown has entered into over 40 Forestry Rights covering over 20,000 hectares with more being negotiated and finalised. Under the Forestry Rights, the Crown plants, manages and harvests trees on the land and pays an annual rental to the landowner. An estimated 18,443,000 trees will be planted over the next two years under the Forestry Rights signed to date.
Greenwood Roche has assisted in the subdivision and transfer of Christchurch’s largest and most central residential development – the East Frame.
Following the Christchurch earthquakes, land was compulsorily acquired by the Crown which gave us the unique opportunity of creating a vibrant, functional and liveable city. The “East Frame” is an anchor project comprising a 14 hectare residential area located at the east of the Christchurch central business district. Half of the East Frame development consists of medium density residential living for approximately 2,000 people. The remainder comprises streets, open spaces and paved areas. The East Frame holds the third largest open space in central Christchurch - Rauora Park.
Greenwood Roche has assisted Ōtākaro Limited with the subdivision, transfer and other property related aspects of the East Frame including Rauora Park.
Brigid McArthur and Will Hulme-Moir have recently acted as independent counsel to the gas industry co-regulator, Gas Industry Company Limited, on approval of a new Gas Transmission Access Code.
The GTAC governs the terms of access to the high pressure North Island gas transmission pipeline systems owned by First Gas Limited, previously known as the Vector and Maui pipelines. Access to these pipelines has since the early 2000s been governed by separate industry codes. This separation has created operational inefficiencies particularly around capacity reservations, offtake management, gas balancing, reconciliation and liability for non‑specification gas, amongst others. With the pipelines now under common ownership has come the opportunity for a rationalisation and reset in accordance with the Gas Act objectives.
Gas Industry Co’s sanction of the new GTAC as “materially better” than the existing codes, comes after a lengthy period of engagement, consultation and extensive debate between different sectoral levels. The industry is presently engaged in IT systems and implementation processes.
Greenwood Roche advised L&M Energy on its acquisition of a 50% stake in the Waihapa Production Station and related petroleum producing and infrastructure assets. This was a joint acquisition with New Zealand Energy Corp.
Lauren Semple and Sam Hutchings recently assisted the Invercargill Licencing Trust in obtaining resource consent to construct a new 8 level, four and half star hotel on the corner of Dee and Don Streets in the heart of Invercargill City. The demolition and construction process now underway.
The new building has been designed by Warren and Mahoney and is a nod to the historic built fabric of the area, while providing for a new iconic and forward looking landmark to invite residents and visitors in to the inner city.
Along with 80 guest suites, the development includes a restaurant, café, bars and a function room to create a thriving space for both guests and local residents alike to assist in the on-going rejuvenation of Invercargill, helping to achieve a key purpose of the Southland Regional Development Strategy.
Given the historic nature of the inner city, a key element of the project was ensuring that the overall heritage values of the previous corner building on the site were retained in the wider Invercargill. This was achieved through volunteered resource consent conditions, including the establishment of a public heritage fund to assist with the upkeep of other Invercargill heritage buildings. Also included was a condition that the new hotel name pays homage to the history of the site. A public competition is now underway to choose a name that reflects the heritage of the area. Entries can be made by emailing email@example.com or submitting entries via the Invercargill Licencing Trust facebook page.
27 November 2019 marked the release of the latest version of the commonly-used agreement for sale and purchase of real estate.
While the new version released by Auckland District Law Society Incorporated and Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Incorporated is intended to be easier to read and incorporates some useful changes, the most significant changes relate to the vendor’s warranties, compensation claims by purchasers, Good and Services Tax and toxicology reports.
The agreement introduces a new standard warranty given by vendors that, at the date of the agreement, the vendor has no knowledge of any fact that might result in legal proceedings (including referral to mediation or arbitration) other being brought in relation to the property. This is a broad warranty, and vendors will need to consider whether anything exists that might give rise to proceedings before they enter the agreement.
The procedures for a purchaser to claim compensation now include a two step process in situations where the vendor disputes the purchaser’s claim to compensation. Previously, a vendor could pressure a purchaser into settling for the full amount as the consequences for the purchaser for failing to settle would be significant if the purchaser was later found to be wrong. The new agreement allows for the dispute about the purchaser’s right to claim compensation to be dealt with in advance of determining the interim amount to be withheld on settlement, but does not deal with the substantive claim.
The GST provisions have been updated to protect the vendor where the agreement provides for a GST-inclusive price with the expectation of a zero-rated sale, and the purchaser changes its status before settlement so that the vendor needs to account for GST from the purchase price. This is intended to ensure that the vendor does not lose out due to the purchaser’s actions.
A new optional condition has been inserted which allows for the agreement to be entered into conditional on the purchaser obtaining a satisfactory toxicology report. The purpose of the report is to test contamination from the preparation, manufacturing or use of drugs with specific reference to methamphetamine. The report must be completed objectively and in good faith, and must be in writing.
The finance clause has also been amended so that the purchaser is able to select what financial institution the purchaser wants to seek funding from. If the purchaser seeks to avoid the agreement for non-satisfaction of this condition, the purchaser must give the vendor reasonable evidence confirming that finance is not available.
There remains no standard solicitor’s approval as to title condition, valuation condition or due diligence condition. Purchasers (and vendors) should therefore consider adding other conditions before signing an agreement.
The new agreement for sale and purchase coincides with the release of the New Zealand Law Society’s Property Transaction Guidelines, which were developed with the assistance of Julian Smith, from Greenwood Roche.
The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration has recently accepted the proposal for Hagley Oval developed by Regenerate Christchurch on behalf of the Canterbury Cricket Trust. The Minister is now seeking public feedback on the proposal.
Canterbury Cricket Trust have advised Hagley Oval’s current resource consent conditions make it costly and difficult for Hagley Oval to host large international fixtures, in particular day-night matches that are now required by top-tier teams. As a result, Hagley Oval is less competitive when bidding for games compared to its rival cricket grounds. With the Women’s Cricket World Cup approaching in 2021, the changes in the proposal will need to be approved by the Minister in order for Christchurch City to be able to bid for and host top-tier games. Bids for the upcoming Woman’s Cricket Work Cup close on 20 December 2019.
The proposal provided to the Minister seeks to amend the Christchurch District Plan through section 71 of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 (GCR Act). The proposal seeks to incorporate the current resource consent conditions into the Plan and to amend certain aspects of those conditions, including:
New Zealand takes its place on the global stage with its efforts to combat the effects of climate change. The Emissions Trading Scheme is at the centre of these efforts. Improvements to the Emissions Trading Scheme were announced on 31 July 2019.
Climate change is arguably one of the most pressing threats to the planet. According to the United Nations, climate change “is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment”.
The Kyoto Protocol requires its members to monitor their actual greenhouse gas emissions and precise records of trades have to be kept. It has set the framework for numerous policy, legislative and environmental initiatives. New Zealand has the unique opportunity of playing its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through forestry. Forestry exports are worth around $5 billion a year and forestry directly employs approximately 20,000 people. It is a crucial part of our climate change response.
With that in mind, it is imperative that New Zealand implement a sufficient, robust and effective Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). On 31 July 2019, improvements to the ETS regulations were announced to reach that goal. An Amendment Bill to the Climate Change Response Act 2002 will be introduced to Parliament later this year. Four changes in this Amendment Bill are worth noting:
Greenwood Roche lawyers, Lauren Semple and Rachel Murdoch, have been working with Regenerate Christchurch on the development of the draft Otakaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan which is the subject of this review case.
In response to a complaint, the Chief Ombudsman’s opinion confirms that Regenerate Christchurch acted lawfully and in an administratively reasonable manner in the development of the draft plan. The draft plan is currently with the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration for her approval or decline. For more information and to review the case note please click here.
On the 4th of July the New Zealand Productivity Commission released a draft report on Local Government Funding and Financing.
This report is the result of the Government’s request for the Productivity Commission to undertake an inquiry into local government funding and financing; and where shortcomings in the current system are identified, to examine options and approaches for improving the system.
While there were a number of suggestions made, the draft report found the current framework is broadly sound. The Commission Chair stated “The current framework measures up well against the principles of a good funding and financing system for local government. It is clearly separated from the central government’s tax base which is an important feature. It is relatively simple and economically efficient. It also provides a high degree of flexibility for councils to shape how they raise their revenue.”
The report notes that councils can make better use of the tools they already have access to, and there is room to improve organisation performance, transparency and decision making that will help to relieve cost pressures. These existing tools include rates, fees are user charges, development contributions, central government funding and debt.
The Commission favours the “benefit principle” as the primary basis for deciding who should pay for local government services. Those who benefit from a service should pay for its costs. Additionally, where local services benefit national interests, central government should contribute. User charges or targeted rates should also be utilised.
The Commission found that there is no clear evidence that rates have become less affordable over time, despite this being one of the key reasons the inquiry was undertaken. Overall, rates have continued to broadly align with population and income growth over the past 3 decades, but have not become relatively more burdensome.
Cost pressures and new tools
The report noted some new tools are needed to help councils deal with some specific cost pressures. The highest priority pressures have been identified as:
As part of its broader focus on the construction and infrastructure sectors, the Government is proposing a bill which would establish a Crown entity tasked with providing strategic independent advice and oversight on the planning, co-ordination and delivery of public sector-led infrastructure projects in New Zealand.
The establishment of Te Waihanga – New Zealand Infrastructure Commission as a Crown entity is one of the more significant actions taken by the Government towards addressing the major infrastructure deficit in New Zealand, and the existing challenges with the planning, co-ordinating and delivery of infrastructure projects which have contributed to New Zealand’s current position. Taking lead from similar initiatives in Australia, the UK and elsewhere, the Commission will provide strategic oversight and leadership over the way in which infrastructure projects are planned, co-ordinated and procured. Critically, its functions are advisory only. Any decision-making regarding infrastructure projects (including investment in those projects, or the timing for or manner in which they are procured and delivered) will remain with the relevant Ministers/departments.
Under the bill, Te Waihanga would be established as an autonomous Crown entity, governed by a board of up to 7 members. The entity will largely take shape from the existing Infrastructure Transactions Unit currently within Treasury which will be incorporated into Te Waihanga once it is established (anticipated for October 2019).
The overarching function of the Commission is to co-ordinate, develop, and promote an approach to infrastructure and resulting services that improve the well-being of New Zealanders. The bill authorises the Commission to carry out that function through two main ways:1. Strategy and planning through:
b. Providing advice on infrastructure including the current state of infrastructure, current and future infrastructure needs, infrastructure priorities, and matters which may prevent the effective delivery of infrastructure.
a. Promoting a strategic and coordinated approach to the delivery of infrastructure projects;
c. Providing support services to those projects, including advice, services or staff to assist in the delivery of a project.
While not specifically included as a provision in the bill, the explanatory note identifies that Te Waihanga would be empowered to, and will be expected to, promote best practice infrastructure delivery as part of its supporting function. To that end, it is expected that the Commission will:
e. Publish a pipeline identifying existing and upcoming infrastructure projects (the first of these can be accessed on the Treasury website);
f. Produce best practice guidance on infrastructure procurement and delivery. This function will be part of its role as the “centre of expertise to assist infrastructure projects to be delivered efficiently and effectively”. To that end, where requested by the relevant department/Minister, the Commission will also provide advice on business cases for proposed projects.
In support of its functions (and in addition to its general powers as a Crown entity), the bill both grants powers to, and imposes obligations on, the Commission, including:
This proposal has generally received strong support and input from industry and experts within both the public and private sector, and represents a critical step towards a more informed, strategic and coherent approach to infrastructure planning, procurement and delivery. Perhaps the biggest potential shortcoming is the general lack of any strong levers which would at least encourage action/compliance by other government departments with the advice of the Commission. For example, while the Government would be required to issue a response to the Commission’s strategy reports, government departments are not obliged to consider the findings of the reports in reaching any decisions relating to procurement or planning of capital projects, nor consult with the Commission. Consequently, to successfully effect change at the decision making level, the Commission will need to build a narrative around the positive impacts of sound planning and procurement, and the role that it can play in supporting other departments in achieving those outcomes. Even if it is able to do so, there is still the risk that the Commission could be sidelined.
Among the options to mitigate this risk, there is the opportunity to expand the Commission’s mandate to include monitoring and reporting on the Government’s progress in addressing New Zealand’s infrastructure challenges. While under the current proposal it would be required to provide “state of the nation” assessments, there is no explicit directive to undertake on-going monitoring of how the Government is responding to the findings of the Commission’s assessments, including how it is addressing identified constraints on the effective delivery of infrastructure. Expanding the Commission’s mandate to include monitoring and reporting on the Government’s response to the identified challenges and opportunities (which would also, as a first step, require the development of some form of metric) would strengthen the Commission’s ability to keep the Government accountable for effecting improvements in the planning, procurement and delivery of infrastructure.
For further information on the Commission or if you are interested in receiving further updates on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.