Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson announced today that the report-back date for the independent Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking-Water has been extended at the request of the Inquiry’s Panel.
The Panel, which began proceedings in October last year, will now report back to the Government in two stages.
Stage 1 will address matters relating directly to the Havelock North water contamination incident and the response to that incident. It will include findings of fact and fault. Following Cabinet approval, Stage 1 is now due to be reported back to the Attorney-General by 12 May 2017.
Stage 2 will address systemic issues and provide recommendations about managing water supply across New Zealand. It will examine the existing statutory and regulatory regimes involved in delivering drinking-water to see if improvements can be made. Stage 2 of the Inquiry is now due to be reported back to the Attorney-General by 8 December 2017.
An extension to the report-back date was requested by the Panel for a number of reasons, including:delays caused by legal action between the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Hastings District Council; delays caused by the need to ensure the interim safety of Havelock North’s drinking-water; the Inquiry’s decision to adopt a two-stage approach to the Inquiry; and the underlying complexity of the statutory and regulatory regimes involved.
“The issues facing the Inquiry must be examined comprehensively to ensure we have a clear understanding of what happened in Havelock North,” Mr Finlayson said. “New Zealanders must be able to have confidence that the rules and practices which govern the safety of their drinking water are fit for purpose.”
The Inquiry was originally scheduled to report back by 31 March 2017. The terms of reference for the Inquiry will be amended by notice in the New Zealand Gazette to cover the new reporting dates.
The Inquiry was established under the Inquiries Act 2013 and is statutorily independent of government.
The Honourable Justice Denis Clifford has been appointed a Judge of the Court of Appeal, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson announced today.
Justice Clifford graduated LLB (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington in 1978. He joined the Wellington law firm Buddle Anderson Kent & Co, leaving in 1980 to take up a position as Visiting Fellow at the University of Illinois Law School.
In 1982 Justice Clifford returned to New Zealand to work for Buddle Findlay before moving to London in 1984 to work for Slaughter and May. He returned to New Zealand in 1986 and became a partner at Buddle Findlay, a position he held until 2001. From 1998 to 2000 Justice Clifford was on secondment with the Policy Advisory Group in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He joined the independent bar in 2002.
Justice Clifford was appointed a Judge of the High Court in April 2006.
The Crown has signed an agreement in principle with Ngāti Rangi to settle its historical Treaty of Waitangi claims, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson announced today.
Ngāti Rangi has an area of interest centred around the upper Whangaehu River catchment, on the southern flank of Mount Ruapehu, including the settlements of Ohakune and Waiouru.
“Today marks an important milestone in negotiations with Ngāti Rangi and demonstrates the commitment and hard work of Ngāti Rangi leaders,” Mr Finlayson said. “This agreement provides a strong basis from which to develop a deed of settlement.”
The Agreement in Principle outlines a broad settlement package which includes provisional Crown acknowledgements of Treaty of Waitangi breaches as well as cultural, financial and commercial redress.
The total value of the financial and commercial redress outlined in the agreement is $17 million. Cultural redress focuses on the significant conservation lands, and the management of those lands, within Ngāti Rangi’s area of interest as well as redress aimed at re-establishing relationships with key Crown agencies.
A copy of the Agreement in Principle is available at: www.govt.nz/treaty-settlement-documents/.
The House of Representatives has passed Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill through its third reading today.
“Whanganui Iwi has fought for recognition of its relationship with the Whanganui River since the 1870’s,” Mr Finlayson said. “Today brings the longest running litigation in New Zealand’s history to an end.”
The legislation will establish a new legal framework for the Whanganui River, Te Awa Tupua, which recognises the river as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea. Te Awa Tupua will have its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.
“The approach of granting legal personality to a river is unique,” Mr Finlayson said. “It responds to the view of the iwi of the Whanganui River which has long recognised Te Awa Tupua through its traditions, customs and practise.
“This legislation recognises the deep spiritual connection between the Whanganui Iwi and its ancestral river and creates a strong platform for the future of Whanganui River.”
Financial redress of $80 million is included in the settlement as well as an additional $1 million contribution towards establishing the legal framework for the river. The Crown will also contribute $30 million towards a contestable fund to further the health and wellbeing of the Whanganui River.
“This is an innovative settlement. The Crown is committed to working alongside Whanganui Iwi to ensure the success of this settlement for Te Awa,” Mr Finlayson said.
The House of Representatives sat through extended sitting hours this morning to pass the Iwi and Hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa Claims Settlement Bill through its first reading. The Bill has been referred to the Māori Affairs Committee.
“Today’s first reading is an important step towards full and final settlement of the historical claims of the iwi and hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa,” Mr Finlayson said.
When enacted, this Bill will give effect to the Deed of Settlement signed by the iwi and hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa and the Crown in November 2016.
The settlement contains total financial and commercial redress of $100 million, including the transfer of interests in Wharerata Forest Limited and Patunamu Crown Forest Licensed land and the opportunity to purchase a number of Crown properties.
“The Crown can never fully compensate the iwi and hapū for the loss and prejudice they have suffered,” Mr Finlayson said. “This settlement marks the beginning of a new relationship between the Crown and the iwi and hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa.”
Two Acting District Court Judges have been appointed, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson announced today.
Tauranga Crown Solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones has been appointed an Acting District Court Judge with a jury warrant to be based in Rotorua.
Mr Hollister-Jones has been the Tauranga Crown Solicitor since 1998. In that time he has prosecuted criminal trials, appeals in the High Court and proceeds of crime appeals in the Court of Appeal. He was a barrister in Tauranga from 1992 to 1997 and a Crown prosecutor with Meredith Connell in Auckland from 1987 to 1992.
Judge Hollister-Jones will be sworn in on 5 April 2017 in Tauranga.
New Plymouth barrister and solicitor Haamiora Raumati has been appointed an Acting District Court Judge with a Family Court warrant to be based in Gisborne.
Mr Raumati has practised law in New Plymouth since 1995 and has worked for RMY Legal (formerly Reeves Middleton Young) since 1999. He was made a partner of that firm in 2002. He has experience in all areas of family law and is a Lawyer for the Child and Youth Advocate.
Judge Raumati will be sworn in on 3 April 2017 in New Plymouth.
Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson travels to Singapore and Malaysia tomorrow for a series of ministerial meetings about countering terrorism and senior law officer matters.
“International cooperation on countering terrorism and other issues affecting our national security is crucial in the current global environment,” Mr Finlayson said. “We value our engagement with countries in the South East Asia region on these matters.”
Mr Finlayson is being hosted in Singapore by the Minister for Home Affairs and Law. He will also meet with the Attorney-General and Chief Justice.
He will then travel to Kuala Lumpur where he will meet with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs.
“New Zealand has a long history of cooperation with Singapore and Malaysia in a range of areas and I look forward to this opportunity to discuss important counter terrorism and Attorney-General matters,” Mr Finlayson said.
Mr Finlayson will be accompanied by New Zealand’s Ambassador for Counter Terrorism Carl Worker.
The Attorney-General announced today that an appointment round for Queen’s Counsel will take place in 2017.
Appointments of Queen’s Counsel are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Attorney-General and with the concurrence of the Chief Justice. The Governor-General retains the discretion to appoint Queen’s Counsel in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to the law in fields other than advocacy.
The Chief Justice and the Attorney-General have issued Guidelines for Candidates. The Guidelines (and an application form) are available at www.crownlaw.govt.nz and set out the criteria for appointment and other information about the appointment process.
The regulations set a fee of $500 for applicants, reflecting the costs of the appointment process.
Applications for appointment as Queen’s Counsel open on 27 February 2017. Applicants must use the application form which should be sent electronically to the Solicitor‑General no later than 27 March 2017.
The Solicitor-General will consult with the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Bar Association regarding the candidates.
It is expected appointments will be made in early June 2017.
Legislation to modernise and bring together important law underpinning contracts and commercial transactions passed its third reading in Parliament today, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson said.
“This has been a major statute revision exercise,” Mr Finlayson said. “The substantive law has not changed but the rules contained in 11 contract and commercial Acts, some dating back to 1908, have been revised and consolidated into a single piece of legislation.
“The law is clearer and easier to understand which will help reduce regulatory costs for both individuals and businesses.
“This Government is committed to an accessible, clear and up-to-date statute book which is why we introduced the triennial statute revision programme in December 2014.
“The Contract and Commercial Law Bill was the first bill on the statute revision programme and work is underway to identify other areas of law that would benefit from this programme in the future,” Mr Finlayson said.
The Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 comes into force six months after Royal assent.