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.
Greenwood Roche has advised Hurupaki Holdings Limited through a Council hearing process, and an Environment Court appeal, to successfully obtain resource consent for a non-complying subdivision creating 76 residential allotments (including associated infrastructure and earthworks), a local café, a recreational reserve and playground, located on the fringe of Kamo in Northland.
As part of its masterplan the applicant proposed a suite of positive benefits that would reduce effects of the subdivision on the environment and improve overall amenity for the wider community. This included extensive replanting, restoration and enhancement of two natural areas - the Hurupaki Cone – which holds particular significance as an Outstanding Natural Feature and an Outstanding Natural Landform – and the Waitaua Stream.
The reporting team on behalf of Whangārei District Council recommended that the application be declined as it did not achieve a “net environmental benefit” as required by the relevant objectives and policies of the operative plan. The application was nevertheless granted by an Independent Commissioner who concluded that overall effects are likely to be minor and that, if consent was refused, then less acceptable outcomes would likely eventuate. An appeal to the Environment Court was made in respect of conditions; however these were ultimately resolved by agreement, with the Court’s final consent determination recently issued under urgency.
As a long-standing legal provider for Beca, Greenwood Roche recently led negotiations between Beca and Precinct Properties for the relocation of Beca House (Beca’s Auckland Office and Global Headquarters) to a new 14,000m² office premises as the anchor tenant in Precinct Properties’ latest development at 126 Halsey Street, Wynyard Quarter.
These negotiations continued our involvement in the project, working alongside Beca and Colliers to develop a market engagement strategy and assessing options that helped secure a better, faster and more efficient transaction.
Don Lyon, Chief Strategy & Operations Officer at Beca: “[The team at Greenwood Roche was] practical, collaborative and constructive, which on a complex deal with short timeframes, assisted greatly to reach agreement, on terms acceptable to its Board. Greenwood Roche were instrumental in developing a robust commercial strategy, then helping us negotiate a comprehensive and detailed Heads of Terms, that enabled us to discuss and resolve all major issues with the prospective landlord at the earliest possible time, giving confidence to our Board and significantly accelerating subsequent negotiations, once we progressed to a full Development Agreement, Agreement to Lease and Lease.”
A key focus for both Beca and Precinct was the performance of the building, including sustainability initiatives. The new building is designed to achieve a 6-star Green Star rating and a 5-star NABERSNZ rating.
The transaction was concluded swiftly and maintained programme for the project thanks to the collective efforts of Beca, Greenwood Roche, Colliers, Precinct Properties and Russell McVeagh.
Greenwood Roche has successfully assisted WFT Finance & Investment Company Limited, directed by Mr Wayne Wright and Mrs Chloe Wright, to secure a private plan change to the Hauraki District Plan to rezone the 33 hectare former Paeroa Racecourse site and approve a Structure Plan to facilitate a mix of residential, commercial and open space development at the site.
Plan Change 5 was approved by the Hauraki District Council following a public notification and hearings process. Development of the site in accordance with the approved zoning and Structure Plan provisions will enable approximately 240 residential lots of various sizes to be provided, and a new chapel and associated commercial and visitor accommodation offerings to be developed. Development of the site will contribute meaningfully to Paeroa’s housing stock and to attract tourism to the Paeroa area. On-site amenity for future residents, public open spaces, adaptation of existing racecourse buildings on the site, and community activities and facilities will also be provided.
On 17 August 2022 the Minster of Health was granted resource consent under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 for the above-ground construction works and subsequent operation of the new Outpatient building at Dunedin Hospital.
Resource consent for the stage 1 foundation works was granted on 23 December 2021, and the granting of this subsequent consent will enable the establishment of the new Outpatient building, the first of the two new clinical buildings that will comprise the New Dunedin Hospital.
Housing a range of consultation and treatment spaces, day surgery facilities, and procedure and diagnostic services, works on the Outpatient building are anticipated to commence in early October 2022. Utilising the fast track consenting legislation has enabled the development to stay on track despite the challenges of the last two years.
Greenwood Roche has successfully assisted Summerset Villages (Parnell) Limited to obtain resource consent for its latest flagship retirement village in Parnell, Auckland.
The village will comprise eight interconnected buildings, ranging from three to eight storeys in height, containing 316 independent living units, serviced units and care / dementia rooms adjacent to the Parnell Train Station and at the foot of Auckland Domain.
Greenwood Roche worked with the wider project team to develop the proposal for a retirement village at the Parnell site over a number of years and subsequently acted for Summerset Villages (Parnell) Limited through the application, public notification and hearings process, with consent being granted by the Council in May 2021. Residential neighbours of the proposed village then appealed to the Environment Court against the Council’s decision to grant consent, seeking extensive changes to the village design and to conditions of consent relating to the lengthy construction period. Through alternative dispute resolution processes, Greenwood Roche successfully negotiated with the appellant and other interested parties to resolve the appeal and a consent order was issued by the Environment Court in August 2022, enabling the development to proceed.
On Wednesday 14 September the tunnel boring machine “Dame Whina Cooper” broke through at Te Waihorotiu/Aotea Station.
Wednesday’s breakthrough marked the completion of the tunnel excavations for the City Rail Link Project. The next stage of construction is now underway to install the railway tracks and other systems necessary for the operation of the rail network.
Since the Dame Whina Cooper began operation in May 2021 tunnelling teams have been hard at work digging two 1.6 kilometre tunnels between Britomart and Mount Eden stations, with the first being completed prior to Christmas in 2021. The machine excavated up to 1,500 tonnes of spoil and travelled around 32m daily. It was also equipped to remove excavated tunnel spoil and install concrete segments to line the newly bored tunnel as it progressed.
Now that its journey is complete, the machine will be lifted to the surface, disassembled and returned to the manufacturer to allow parts to be repurposed for other projects.
Greenwood Roche is very proud to be involved in this significant project. We are engaged as project counsel to the Link Alliance, the consortium of companies responsible for the design and construction of the City Rail Link project.
Greenwood Roche would like to congratulate Malcolm Gillies who was named the recipient of the highest accolade, the Greenwood Roche Supreme Excellence Award, at this year’s recent Property Council - Wellington Property Peoples Awards staged at Te Papa.
Malcolm, a pioneering property developer, has created a long list of high-profile developments including the soon-to-be completed NZ Campus of Innovation and Sport in Heretaunga – one of the most advanced training and research facilities in the world. Malcolm, the managing director of Gillies Group, has also created residential developments including Riverstone Terraces, Wallaceville Estate and Plimmerton Farm, and industrial and commercial precincts such as the South Pacific Industrial Park.
The judging panel praised Malcolm for driving change in both residential and leisure property sectors in a region that is not only his work base but also where he calls home. They felt Malcolm had created a focal point and increased the desirability of Upper Hutt through his vision and work. That he achieved this and was well-regarded in the industry and well-liked by his team made him a stand-out leader and a fitting recipient of the Greenwood Roche Supreme Excellence award.
We would like to extend our congratulations to all other award recipients and nominees from the evening.
Thank you to the team at Property Council New Zealand for organising the event and celebrating industry success.
Greenwood Roche looks forward to continuing our long association with the Awards in 2023.
Minister Nash’s Business Payment Practices Bill has just had its first reading in Parliament, and is open for public submissions until 26 February 2023.
The Bill is aimed at bringing transparency to business-to-business payment terms and practices in New Zealand, based on feedback from small businesses that late payments and lengthy payment terms harm their business. As the Explanatory Note sagely points out, this can lead to cash flow problems, temporary borrowing and, even, insolvency. When one considers how little many smaller businesses have to come and go on to even out the ebbs and flows, this is rather an understatement.
The sincerity of the Bill’s purpose statement is laudable: With this new public disclosure of payment practices information, members of the public and other entities will thus be equipped to to make an informed choice about whether to engage with certain large entities.
Despite all this, at the same time the Bill is openly honest in another stated aim of “supporting the Government to determine if there is a broader problem with extended payment terms” at all, such that regulatory intervention is warranted.
The Bill requires “large entities” (not just companies) with more than $33 million in annual revenue (including GST) for 2 or more consecutive accounting periods to file, twice yearly, a payment practices return with the newly created Registrar of Business Payment Practices. This return must cover invoices received or paid, the time taken to pay, the proportion of invoices paid in full plus other information relating to payment practices and policies, yet to be specified in regulations. The data will be published on a publicly searchable register maintained by MBIE.
Importantly, it seems, the filed return must include a statement that a director is satisfied the information in it is complete and accurate. Presumably if a director has turned their mind to it, the information should be reliable and directors will be incentivised to request change if the information paints their business in a bad light.
The Bill relies on large entities valuing their reputation sufficiently that they alter their payment practices to something, presumably, fairer. There are no other substantive sanctions short of not filing a return.
Talking of fairness, why could the unfair contracts provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1986 not have been relied on to deal with this potential problem? And why, in these difficult economic times, did Parliament need to spend valuable time legislating for something that is neither established to be a problem and could in any event have been dealt with through non-legislative means?
If you need any assistance in making a submission, in support or otherwise, please contact a member of our commercial team.
The Overseas Investment (Forestry) Amendment Act 2022 (OIA Amendment Act) is now in force.
The increasing financial attraction of forestry activities and accumulation of carbon credits caused by changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme and government afforestation incentives has triggered an escalation in the conversion of farm land to forestry blocks. The Government had been facing mounting pressure from the agricultural industry to ensure that overseas investments involving the conversion of land to forestry genuinely benefit New Zealand and that any associated risks (including the loss of productive farmland and threats to biodiversity) are better managed.
Those in the forestry sector and overseas investors were largely opposed to the changes. Investors view the changes as unnecessarily discouraging investment in New Zealand where there is little evidence of any real problem to address. However, the majority of submitters, particularly those submitting from an environmental and agricultural standpoint, were supportive of the amendments which aim to strike a better balance between encouraging foreign investment and protecting the production and amenity values of New Zealand’s rural landscape.
The amendments apply to all agreements entered into following 16 August 2022. Agreements entered into before 16 August 2022 are still assessed under the previous rules, even if an OIO condition in those contracts is yet to be satisfied.
The “benefit to New Zealand” test in section 16A of the OIA now applies to overseas investments involving the conversion of existing farm land to forestry, adding a further threshold for overseas investors to meet.
Acquisitions of existing forestry assets will remain under the previous, and more streamlined, special forestry test. The special forestry test involves a lower threshold, and only requires evidence of the investor’s financial acumen, proposed investment strategy for the property and wider business strategy generally, and a commitment to preserving existing third-party access arrangements, heritage and conservation on the property. It does not also require the investor to establish a benefit to New Zealand. It is almost considered a tick box checklist, with minimal discretion for the Minister to decline consent provided the criteria are met.
In contrast, for forestry conversions, the benefit to New Zealand test also requires an assessment of the benefit to New Zealand introduced by the overseas investment, compared to how the current property owner would continue to run the farming operation if they retained the property. This will involve a greater element of Ministerial discretion where the proposed benefits are seen as insufficient to mitigate the loss of farm land for forestry.
The key points worth noting from the OIA Amendment Act are:
Some submitters, including Federated Farmers, thought the amendments should have gone further and subjected forestry conversions to the higher farm land benefit test. However, most supporters of the OIA Amendment Act agreed that this would be a step too far and would be overly prohibitive to investment in New Zealand.
The OIO will require a high level of evidence of a long-term intention of carrying out forestry activities and harvesting trees, something that has not been required previously.
If you have any questions, or if you are considering acquiring land or business assets in New Zealand, please get in touch with a member of our Overseas Investment team.
The Government last week released its latest national environmental initiative, the new National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) which takes effect on 17 October 2022.
The NPS-HPL is a push by the Government to protect the availability of favourable soils for food and fibre production. However, it doesn’t purport to provide absolute protection for highly productive land recognising that ensuring compatibility with the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) is also a key consideration.
The scope of the NPS-HPL is limited to rural land recognised through Land Use Capability (LUC) classifications as having productive value. It does not apply to land zoned or identified for urban purposes (including residential, commercial and industrial). The objective is to protect highly productive land for land-based primary production, both now and for future generations. The policies ensure a consistent approach to the management of highly productive land and reverse sensitivity associated with primary production across the whenua. There is also a renewed approach to ensuring tangata whenua involvement across decision-making structures for whānau, hapū, and iwi.
We summarise the key elements of the NPS-HPL below.
Regional councils must map as highly productive land any land that:
Regional councils may map land that is zoned general rural or rural production but is not LUC 1, 2 or 3 as highly productive if the land is or has the potential, depending on the region, to be highly productive for land-based activity in the region.
However, land identified for future urban development will be excluded.
Timing for mapping and the transitional position until the mapping has occurred
The NPS-HPL comes into effect on 17 October 2022. As soon as practicable, or within a maximum of 3 years, regional councils must notify a proposed regional policy statement with updated planning maps of the region identifying highly productive land. Within 6 months of notification, corresponding district councils must update district planning maps in accordance with the proposed regional plans.
Critically, in the transition period until regional councils have mapped all highly productive land, a transitional definition applies such that all land zoned general rural, rural production and classed LUC 1, 2, or 3 is deemed highly productive (and therefore subject to the provisions of the NPS-HPL) unless the land:
We expect this transitional definition and the resultant application of the NPS-HPL provisions could have significant implications for a number of proposals seeking to utilise rural land for urban purposes.
Rezoning, subdivision and/or development of highly productive land
Where, either through the transitional definition or through the subsequent regional council mapping, a site is identified as containing “highly productive land”, the NPS-HPL directs that rezoning, subdivision or development of that land is to be avoided (not undertaken at all) except in certain circumstances.
In a nod to the aspirations/requirements of the NPS-UD, rezoning that land for urban purposes may occur in Tier 1 or Tier 2 territorial authority areas only if:
In addition to restrictions on rezoning proposals, the NPS-HPL also includes a range of constraints on subdivision and use or development of highly productive land (including where no rezoning is proposed). Those constraints generally seek to prevent subdivision and use/development where it will adversely impact the productive capacity of the land. There are specific exceptions to that general prohibition on inappropriate use/development of highly productive land, including where it is on specified Maori land; relates to indigenous biodiversity; is for a designated activity; or where it is needed for the operation, maintenance, upgrade or expansion of specified infrastructure.
Where those exceptions do not apply to the subdivision, use or development, the NPS-HPL will only authorise such activities on highly productive land where territorial authorities are satisfied that:
What does the NPS-HPL mean for you?
As illustrated above, this NPS, like a number of those issued in recent years, contains strong directions designed to protect a specific feature of the natural environment, in this case, productive land. Where that feature is identified on a subject site, those directions could have the effect of precluding the rezoning, subdivision, land use or development entirely.
Given the importance of our highly productive soils to human health and the health of the environment, these constraints may well be justified. It is also clear that the potential tensions of the NPS-HPL with the aspirations and requirements of the NPS-UD relating to housing capacity have been recognised, and attempts have been made with the former to provide some accommodation to the latter. However, the difficulty, as we see it, is the potential for significant areas of land to be classified as highly productive under the NPS-HPL when in reality they have very limited productive value. This is made possible by the heavy (though not exclusive) reliance within that document on the LUC classifications to determine whether land is “highly productive” or not. In reality (and as anticipated by the discussion document version of the NPS-HPL) there are a wide range of reasons why land may have productive value (or not), and there would appear to be limited opportunity to account for those in the identification of highly productive land either during the transitional default period, or through the regional councils’ mapping exercise.
As a result, large areas of land otherwise suitable for housing, for example, could, for example, be withdrawn from any rezoning proposal because of their LUC classification, despite the fact that land may otherwise be constrained for productive use.
The NPS-HPL could also significantly constrain the establishment of new renewable energy proposals on highly productive land, noting though that an exception can exist where environmental and economic benefits outweigh the costs of loss of productive use. This might seem at odds with both the direction within the NPS on Renewable Electricity Generation 2011, and with broader energy policy in this space.
To that end, if you are considering or currently preparing a rezoning proposal for rural land or are undertaking activities on rural land falls within LUC classifications 1, 2 or 3, we would strongly recommend that you contact Francelle Lupis or Lauren Semple to discuss the potential implications of the NPS-HPL. You can review the LUC classification of your site for free through the Landcare/Manaaki Whenua website.
In a bold move, Christchurch City Council Councillors have voted (10:5) not to publicly notify the proposed Housing and Business Choice Plan Change (Plan Change) recommended by Council officers as a response to the mandatory requirements regarding residential intensification. In doing so, the Councillors have effectively opened the door to the potential appointment of a Commissioner to implement the Plan Change in the Council’s stead.
The proposed Plan Change is required under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to, among other changes, incorporate the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) within the District Plan to enable more intensified housing through the city. The requirement is aimed at accelerating and strengthening the outcomes for our urban centres anticipated by the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (NPS-UD). Notification of the Plan Change was required by law to occur on 20 August 2022. Christchurch City Council had already delayed notification of the Plan Change previously for Covid-19 related reasons.
Implementing the MDRS through the Plan Change would have allowed up to three homes of up to 12m high to be built in most residential areas of the city (with certain exceptions), without the requirement for resource consent. The Plan Change would have had immediate effect upon its public notification.
The Plan Change faced resistance from many members of the community, and was unpopular around the Councillor table from the start with Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner beginning his remarks by stating:
"Christchurch isn't Auckland. Christchurch does not need Auckland's solutions to problems that Christchurch doesn't have”
However, despite views of this nature being reasonably widely shared the Councillors (and the Council as an organisation) have no statutory ability to simply decide not to implement the required MDRS changes. As such, in declining to approve the Plan Change, there is now a real risk that Hon Nanaia Mahuta (as the Minister for Local Government) will utilise the powers available to her under the Local Government Act 2002 and appoint a Commissioner or a Crown Manager to implement the Plan Change on the Council’s behalf. With local body elections on the horizon, if a Commissioner is appointed, the Minister may also decide to postpone the upcoming Council election. In wider fallout there could be ramifications for the Greater Christchurch Partnership (of which the Council is a member) and its relationship with the Crown under its Urban Growth Partnership.
If a Commissioner or Crown Manager is appointed, their role is not necessarily limited to simply notifying the required Plan Change - it could extend to all of the Council’s functions and duties, as well as, in the case of the appointment of a Commissioner, the exercise of the Council and its members powers under the Local Government Act and any other enactment. There is also a risk that if an appointment of this nature were to occur, Councillors will no longer have any input into the content of the Plan Change, and the Change may ultimately be notified with less Qualifying Matters than those recommended by Council officers. This risk was clearly articulated by current councillor Dr Melanie Coker in her speech on the Change:
"I want to vote no, not to notify to give the proverbial finger to the government and let them take full responsibility. I also want to vote yes to notify to try our best to protect our character and heritage areas and trees in our suburbs."
Certainly a bold move on the part of Christchurch City Council to reject a statutory direction which may have wide reaching consequences. It will be interesting to see how the Government reacts to this stand and whether the decision to reject the Plan Change will be of long-term benefit to Christchurch or will instead result in an even more enabling plan change being notified.
We are closely observing this process as it unfolds and will be providing regular updates – watch this space!
UPDATE: The Supreme Court granted leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision on Thursday 17 November. The hearing is set down for the week of 20 March 2023, when the Supreme Court is sitting in Christchurch.
Given that many streams and rivers and most of the groundwater in Canterbury is either fully or over allocated, water allocation is a significant issue for the region. Read on for our analysis of a recent Court of Appeal decision which has potentially major implications for existing water consents in Canterbury, where a change in use is proposed, and across New Zealand.
In the recently released Court of Appeal decision Aotearoa Water Action Inc v Canterbury Regional Council  NZCA 325, consents granted by the Regional Council (allowing up to 8.8 billion litres of water to be used for water bottling purposes) have been set aside. This decision will likely affect any existing water consents sought to be used for a different purpose than consented, and may also have ramifications in other regions across the country.
Consents had historically been granted by the Regional Council to “take and use” water for the purposes of a freezing works and a wool scour respectively. Those consents were later transferred to Rapaki Natural Resources Ltd and Cloud Ocean Water Ltd. Both companies subsequently applied for (and were granted) new consents to “use” (for a different purpose) the water able to be taken under the existing “take” consents.
Once the new “use” consents were granted, the Regional Council amalgamated those consents with the historical “take” consents. The Court described this as an “administrative process” in order to demonstrate that the companies had consents to both “take and use” water for bottling purposes. This included the issuing of new consent numbers. Interestingly, the Court of Appeal described this process as a “legitimate administrative step” despite the Regional Council acknowledging that such a process has no statutory basis in the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).
As acknowledged in the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP), most rivers and streams in Canterbury are at or near full allocation for reliable ‘run-of-river’ takes. Similarly, many groundwater allocation zones in the region are at or over allocation limits for abstraction. The approach taken by the Regional Council, in processing an application for a “use” only, effectively enabled the water bottling companies to sidestep the relevant rule in the LWRP which makes new applications to “take and use” water in fully-allocated groundwater allocation zones (including the applicable to the subject site of the consents) a prohibited activity.
The Court of Appeal’s main focus was on whether the granting the consents to “use” water for water bottling, without granting new consents to “take” the water, was lawful. Essentially, the question before the Court was whether a consent to “use” water under s14 of the RMA can be sought and granted without an associated application to “take” water for the same use. The case for Aotearoa Water Action Incorporated was that applications for “take” and “use” must be considered together.
The Court found that there is no reason based on the wording of s14, to treat a “take” as necessarily combined with “use”, any more than there is to treat “take” as being necessarily linked to the other activities provided for in the provision such as “dam” or “divert”. However, whether a Council can grant a separate consent for a “use” and a separate consent for a “take”, will depend on the terms of the relevant regional plan.
The Court closely considered the relevant rules of the LWRP, noting that that Plan refers variously to “taking or use” and “taking and use”, with this difference in wording being considered by the Court to be important and clearly intended.
As the relevant rule that applied to the companies’ consent applications referred to the “taking and use” of groundwater, the Court held that the LWRP contemplated that it be regarded as one activity. This meant the Council could not lawfully grant a resource consent to “use” water separately to the authorisation to take water. The Court stated that if both elements were to be considered separately, it is difficult to see how the plan can be administered in a way that preserves its integrity.
The Court’s decision is of some significance in Canterbury, given the questions that now arise (particularly for consent holders who have been granted new “use” consents on the basis rejected by the Court). We anticipate that the Regional Council may seek to enable separate “use” consents from “take” consents by way of a change to the LWRP, and that other regional councils or unitary authorities around the country will also now be closely scrutinising the wording of their Plan rules. As examples, the Wellington Regional Freshwater Plan appears to generally use the terminology “take or use” in relation to water, suggesting the granting of “use” consents separately from “take” consents may be lawful there. The Auckland Regional Plan, in contrast, appears to treat the taking and using of water as a single activity.
Cloud Ocean Water has sought leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. The Regional Council has decided not to appeal the decision. Whether or not leave will be granted by the Supreme Court should be known later this year.
If you would like specific advice on the implications of the Court of Appeal’s decision and how it might affect any consents you currently hold (or might wish to acquire), please contact Monique Thomas.