Who we are
The Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel (the Panel) has been established to hear submissions on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (the Plan) and then make recommendations on the Plan to the Auckland Council about the changes the Panel thinks should be made to the Plan.
From September 2014 onwards the Panel will be listening to and considering the views of around 9500 submitters and 3500 further submitters across a wide range of topics in the Plan. The Panel has to complete this task and report its recommendations by 22 July 2016. The Auckland Council will then consider the recommended changes and make its decisions.
This website will provide submitters with the information they need to take part in the hearing process, and will also be where parties involved in hearings go to access the hearing documents.
This website will also provide information for anyone who is interested in how the hearing process works, the topics being considered, and the progress being made by the Panel.
You can find out more about the hearing process on our home page and by looking at our procedure document and fact sheets on our process page.
The Panel will be based at 205 Queen Street, Auckland Central from 1 July 2014 and most of the hearings will take place there on Level 16. See the contact us page of this website for details of our location and how to get there.
The Panel welcomes your questions and feedback on the hearing process. To contact the Panel please email us at email@example.com, or if your query is urgent phone us on 09 979 5566.
Message from the Panel Chair - Judge David Kirkpatrick
On behalf of my fellow Panel members, thank you for visiting this website. We hope that you can find all the information you need to be able to participate effectively in the Plan hearings process.
We have to consider over 9,000 submissions, which raise around 100,000 points concerning possible changes to the Plan. We also have a limited amount of time in which to do that and make our recommendations to the Auckland Council. It is a challenging prospect, but with careful organisation, sensible procedures and a measure of goodwill from all participants, we believe we can provide Auckland, on time, with our recommendations for a Plan that will promote the sustainable management of Auckland's natural and physical resources.
This website will be added to extensively over time. Those of you who will be attending meetings and hearings will be visiting this website regularly. Please let us know of ways in which we can make this website and the hearings process work better for you.
The Panel is a statutory body set up by the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010. Its members have been appointed by the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Conservation. It is independent of Auckland Council and any other arm of government. Auckland Council is however responsible for funding the Panel and providing staff to support the Panel.
A team of 15 mediators and facilitators has been set up to assist the Panel.
Judge David Kirkpatrick (Chairperson)
Judge Kirkpatrick is an Environment Court Judge, having been sworn in on 3 February 2014.
Prior to his judicial appointment, he was an experienced resource management barrister, with extensive experience in consenting and planning appeals. He was also an accredited independent hearings commissioner, and chaired council hearings, including a number of high profile consent applications. He also has expert litigation experience, having appeared before consent authorities and Boards of Inquiry as well as before the Courts.
Ms Crawford is a land use planner with wide experience in regional and district plan making, implementation and outcome evaluation. She is a trained facilitator and mediator.
Ms Crawford’s past employment includes research positions at Harvard University, Massey University and The University of Waikato. Ms Crawford has been actively involved in teaching and training, particularly continuing professional development for RMA professionals. Ms Crawford is a winner of the NZ Planning Institute Distinguished Service Award.
Mr Fuller is a barrister with experience and qualifications in resource management law, planning, environmental management, and horticultural science. He has appeared before council hearings, the Environment Court, and the High Court.
Mr Fuller is an accredited RMA Commissioner and was formerly a Strategic Policy Analyst at the Auckland Regional Council, and a project leader on the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy.
Mr Hill is a resource management consultant and an accredited independent hearings commissioner and chair. He has significant experience in chairing resource management hearings and has particular expertise in air, land, water and coastal policy issues as well as land use planning.
He was previously a General Manager of Policy and Planning at Auckland Regional Council, and a principal author of the Auckland Regional Coastal Plan. Mr Hill is a recipient of the New Zealand Planning Institute’s Distinguished Service Award.
Ms Hunter is a planning consultant at MWH NZ Ltd. with extensive experience in district and regional plan development and specialist skills in structure planning, managing and staging growth and aligning infrastructure requirements.
Ms Hunter's recent work includes strategic advisor for the Hamilton City District Plan review. Ms Hunter is a former president of the New Zealand Planning Institute, a recipient of the Institute's Distinguished Service Award and an accredited independent hearings commissioner.
Mr Kirikiri has Tikanga Māori expertise within the RMA framework. He is a qualified independent hearings commissioner and an accredited independent hearings chair.
He is a former Deputy Mayor of Rodney District Council and a past Auckland Council Local Board Member. He brings extensive experience in structure and area planning (including rural strategy), economic development and 24 years’ service in emergency management. Mr Kirikiri is passionate about the youth sector and at a governance level he has served many non-profit community organisations (NGOs).
Mr Morrison is a former Auckland Councillor, during which time he was Chair of the Rural Advisory Panel and Regulatory and Bylaws Committee.
Mr Morrison also served as ward councillor for Franklin District and has extensive business experience including General Manager at New Zealand Steel/BHP New Zealand Steel.
Mr Shepherd is an economist with experience in the economics of infrastructure, the pricing of infrastructure services under various forms of price regulation, public policy issues, and business strategy.
Mr Shepherd is a Director at the economic consulting firm Sapere Research Group.
Alan Watson is an independent hearing commissioner with experience from around New Zealand based on his professional training as a planner and resource management consultant. As a commissioner he has dealt with the full range of matters for local authorities. These include chairing the hearing of applications and submissions associated with the City Rail Link in Auckland, the Waihi gold mine and the Waikato Regional Policy Statement.
Alan served on the inaugural National Advisory Board for the "Making Good Decisions" Accreditation Scheme to upskill RMA decision-makers, and is currently a presenter for this programme. He has recently been involved in the Unitary Plan hearing process as a mediator during 2014 and 2015.
David Hill is an Independent Hearing Commissioner and a planning and resource management consultant in Auckland. He has a strong working knowledge of RMA plan-making and consenting as a former Ministry for the Environment regional manager in Auckland and as a private sector consultant. He has extensive experience as a commissioner and panel chair determining over 300 applications under the RMA and Local Government Act, dealing with consent applications, plan development, plan changes and notices of requirement. David has recently been involved in the Unitary Plan hearing process as a mediator and facilitator, including facilitating expert groups on capacity for growth and volcanic viewshafts.
Les Simmons is an Independent Hearing Commissioner, with previous experience as a planning and resource management consultant primarily in the Auckland region.
In forty years of planning and resource management experience as a local authority planner, consultant and decision-maker, Les has dealt with a wide range of rural and urban planning and resource management matters, and has developed a broad knowledge of planning and resource management issues across the Auckland region.
A full-time commissioner since 2006, Les has sat on and chaired panels for over 300 hearings on resource consents, plan changes and district plan reviews for a variety of councils. During 2015 he has been involved in the Unitary Plan hearing process as a mediator and facilitator.