Graeme is one of New Zealand’s leading local government public lawyers, with over 30 years’ experience.  His practice encompasses both public law litigation (mainly judicial review) and advice work.

He has appeared in numerous High Court and Court of Appeal hearings, the Supreme Court (and before that the Privy Council), mainly acting for local authorities.

Graeme's advice work covers the full range of local government activities: statutory approval processes and decision-making, including consultation and engagement; governance; council-controlled organisations; infrastructure, in particular roading and 3 waters infrastructure; climate change response; funding, especially rates and development contributions;  Reserves Act; elections; official information and meetings; and the drafting of bylaws and statutory bills.

Graeme’s combined advisory and litigation practice brings both technical skills and real world pragmatism to deliver results for his clients. 

Graeme co-authors Local Government Law in New Zealand.

Work Highlights

CP Group Limited v Auckland Council

Acting for Auckland Council in its successful defence in the Supreme Court of the challenge by hoteliers and others to the Council’s accommodation providers targeted rate. Graeme had previously been involved in advising the Council on the design and implementation of the rate and associated decision-making.

All Aboard Aotearoa v Auckland Transport 

Acting for Auckland Transport on a climate change-based challenge to its regional land transport plan (successful in High Court but appeal to Court of Appeal pending).

Challenge to licensing of e-scooters on footpaths 

Acting for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport on a challenge to their e-scooter licensing decisions as well as to Waka Kotahi decision-making under Land Transport Act.

New Zealand Motor Caravan Associated Incorporated v Thames-Coromandel District Council 

One of many bylaw cases Graeme has been involved in over the years, this was the first challenge to a bylaw made under the Freedom Camping Act: Simpson Grierson successfully defended the claim by the NZMCA that the Council’s bylaw was unlawful and breached the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

Norman v Maunga Authority and Auckland Council

Challenge to Maunga Authority and Auckland Council decisions concerning removal of exotic trees at Ōwairaka (Mt Albert). First proceedings involving decision-making under the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014, raising novel Reserves Act issues and the relationship with treaty settlement legislation.

Save our Queen Street v Auckland Council

Acting for the Council in a claim challenging pedestrianisation works on Queen Street.

Challenge to Auckland Council Local Alcohol Policy 

Proceedings in High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court brought by supermarket chains, challenging the off-licence provisions of the LAP.

Auckland City Council v Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

Successful Court of Appeal and Supreme Court proceedings upholding the rateability of a charity's land used solely for investment purposes.

Telecom Auckland Limited v Auckland City Council

Landmark Court of Appeal decision establishing the rateability of utility networks and sequel Telecom New Zealand v Christchurch City Council - various proceedings in the Land Valuation Tribunal, High Court, and Court of Appeal relating to the methodology for valuing Telecom's network for rating purposes, and a challenge to the validity of the rates based on those valuations.

Tamaki Reserve Protection Trust and North Shore City Council v Minister of Conservation

Judicial review proceedings successfully challenging a decision by the Minister of Conservation to take prime coastal land out of the ambit of the Reserves Act in order to free it for sale.

Areas of Expertise

Insights & News