New Zealand Law Society - Environmental Law in New Zealand

Environmental Law in New Zealand

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Reviewed by Jo-Anne Cook-Munro

At a massive 1,135 pages, this new book on environmental law in New Zealand rivals existing publications in content and size. The book includes recent cases decided in 2015, and also covers the classic cases for environmental and resource management in New Zealand such as the High Court case of Aoraki Water Trust v Meridian Energy Ltd [2005] 2 NZLR 268, [2005] NZRMA 251.

The purpose of the book is all-encompassing. It aims to explore any angle of environmental law from the science behind it to the perceptions held by society which determine what is good and bad in respect of an environment habitat, as well as what should and should not happen. The text is aimed at the resource management practitioner along with those wanting to know more about the various facets of environmental law in the international and New Zealand contexts.

Book cover

Divided into 19 chapters, it moves from general topics – such as the definition of the nature and boundaries of environmental law, and the relevance of international environmental law for domestic law – into more specific and relevant New Zealand issues such as the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori law in environmental law, water management and heritage protection. It ends with the issues of compliance and enforcement.

The range of topics covered is very comprehensive and little-explored topics such as the doctrine of waste and the role that human rights play in achieving environment justice and people's rights in accessing a clean environment are examined (among others). Some of the more general topics contained in the beginning chapters have not been examined in the context of New Zealand environmental law in previous books on this area of law.

Easy to locate

At the start of each chapter is a contents list which shows what each section of the chapter covers and the page number that each section starts on. It is easy to locate information and the chapters are structured in such a way that each concept used is explained clearly and in easy to understand terms.

The chapter then moves on to explain the basic principles of each topic before moving on to discuss more complex concepts. Each chapter essentially tells a story revolving around the issue which is focused on. This approach makes the book easy to read and understand – even though you may get sore arms from the weight of the book while holding it!

The indexes located at the back of the book are easy to use and have been separated out into statutes and regulations, table of cases and a subject index. Each index is ordered alphabetically and contains the location in the text where the statute, regulation, case or subject is referred to.

I like this book. It explores issues that are not immediately apparent as being connected directly to environmental law in New Zealand. It is a welcome addition through its differing approach to a well-established and documented area of law.

Environmental Law in New Zealand, Thomson Reuters New Zealand Ltd, June 2015, 978-0-864729-03-3, 1,135 pages, paperback and e-book, $205 (GST and p&h excluded).

Jo-Anne Cook-Munro is currently on a study break learning about the complexities of employment, contract and sports law. Jo specialises in environmental and resource management law as well as water rights and allocation, local government and energy issues.

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