Monday, July 15, 2024

Proposed Waikato coastal plan hearings panel confirmed

Three independent commissioners have been appointed alongside two regional councillors to the Proposed Waikato Regional Coastal Plan hearings panel.

Councillors Warren Maher and Stuart Kneebone, who were appointed by Council in May, will be joined by independent commissioners chair, Greg Hill (pictured, left), Hugh Leersnyder and Vicki Morrison-Shaw (pictured, right), who have extensive experience in plan hearings with specialist expertise in coastal management, regional planning and tikanga Māori.

Council chair, Pamela Storey said the coastal plan was an important tool for managing the use and allocation of resources in the coastal marine area so it is essential the panel possesses the right mix of skills and legislative knowledge.

The panel will be responsible for hearing and deliberating on submissions to the proposed coastal plan, and then making recommendations to the council.

Over the last five years, the council has carried out a review of its coastal plan to respond to issues that have emerged since it was developed almost 30 years ago and to address legislative changes and national and regional policy direction, it said in a statement.

“In developing the proposed coastal plan, input was sought from iwi and hapū, coastal residents and users, central and local government agencies as well as industry to update and further refine plan provisions to ensure it meets the needs of Waikato communities.”

Cr Storey said the hearings panel will bring a robust and balanced mix to discussions with special technical expertise in resource management planning, coastal policy issues, community knowledge and tikanga Māori perspectives.

Selection criteria for the panel included accreditation for decision making under the Resource Management Act and an understanding of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act. In addition, the independent commissioners needed to have a proven record of understanding complex resource management issues and a familiarity with coastal policy issues.

Hearings processes for the proposed coastal plan are expected to commence in late 2024 with the substantive hearings of submissions to commence in February 2025.

For more information about the Proposed Waikato Regional Coastal Plan, visit

The panel:

Greg Hill (chair)

Greg Hill is an independent hearings commissioner and resource management planner/consultant. He has extensive experience chairing a wide range of plan making and resource consent hearings under the Resource Management Act. He was the General Manager Policy and Planning at the Auckland Regional Council (including the coastal function) and was the project manager and one of the principal authors of the first Auckland Coastal Plan. One of his most significant commissioner roles includes Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora Plan Change 1.

Hugh Leersnyder

Hugh Leersnyder is an independent hearings commissioner with extensive experience in applied environmental planning and resource management. He has technical expertise in biological and physical sciences as well as wide and varied experience in soil, water and coastal resource management. He held the position of Manager – Coastal Environment with Auckland Regional Council for 12 years, leading a team of coastal planners, scientists and other resource management professionals to manage the resources of the coastal environment in a balanced and integrated manner.

Vicki Morrison-Shaw

Of Ngāpuhi descent, Vicki Morrison-Shaw is an experienced Resource Management Act commissioner and senior environmental barrister who specialises in resource management and Māori law issues. She has broad experience across a range of different roles, including within law firms, a specialist iwi consultancy firm and for a local authority. She currently convenes the New Zealand Law Society Environmental Law Committee and is the interim convenor of Te Hunga Rōia Taiao Komiti.

Warren Maher

Warren Maher is the Thames-Coromandel constituency member for the Waikato Regional Council. Warren is chair of the council’s Strategy and Policy Committee and Submissions Subcommittee and also sits on the risk and assurance, integrated catchment and CE employment and remuneration committees. He has lived and run an electrical contracting business in Tairua for 30 years. Warren has been President of the Tairua Pauanui Sports Fishing Club and Vice President of the NZ Sports Fishing Council. He is also the council representative on the Hauraki Gulf Forum.

Stuart Kneebone

Stuart Kneebone is a Waipā-King Country constituency member for the Waikato Regional Council and has been a councillor for the past 12 years. He is co-chair of the Waikato River Authority and Crown appointee as well as co-chair of the Te Nehenehenui Co-Governance Forum. Stu is also a local farmer involved in initiatives that contribute towards catchment health, water quality and biodiversity enhancement in the Waikato region. Over the years, he has spent a lot of time boating and diving in Mercury Bay.

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