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Special Counsel

Jonathan Salter

BA(Hons) LLB


P+64 4 924 3419

M+64 21 480 955

Jonathan Salter

Jonathan is a special counsel in the firm’s planning and environment practice group. He is widely regarded as New Zealand’s leading expert on the structures, powers, processes, and funding of local authorities, advocating for the sector’s interests through periods of dramatic reform and on specific major projects for over 30 years.

Jonathan primarily acts for local authorities and their organisations, but also for those dealing with, or regulating for, local government. He is also sought out by private sector and governmental bodies looking to joint venture with local authorities.

Jonathan’s team advises and assists with everything from day-to-day processes of a local authority to major projects, litigation, and reforms; lobbying, drafting, and promoting legislation, and judicial review proceedings.

Jonathan frequently leads legal teams dealing with complex commercial initiatives within a local government context. He regularly facilitates and mediates in governance and restructuring matters, and provides governance training and new council inductions.

  • Chambers Asia-Pacific Public Law 2023 - Leading Lawyer (Senior Statespeople)

Examples of Work

  • New Plymouth District Council - proposal to facilitate the return of endowment land at Waitara to tangata whenua, including successful defence of legal action brought by leaseholders, and developing and promoting legislative solution
  • Queenstown-Lakes District Council - corporate governance, statutory process and decision-making advice associated with QACL decision to sell 24.9% shareholding to AIAL, and subsequent judicial review
  • Kaipara District Council - remedial actions arising from the Mangawhai Wastewater project, including Local Act, judicial review, long-term planning and rating advice, and pursuing contributory settlements
  • Christchurch City Council - restructure of substantial social housing portfolio
  • Wellington City Council (and others) - shared services ICT Infrastructure project
  • New Plymouth District Council - establishment of New Plymouth Airport CCO
  • New Plymouth District Council - restructure of Council’s investment arrangements from management CCO to fund guardian structure
  • Local Government Commission - Hawke’s Bay and Northland reorganisation proposals
  • Tauranga City Council - process and probity adviser to the “Heart of the City” development
  • Tasman District Council - process adviser on $102 million Waimea Dam project
  • 2018/28 long term plans - advised 44 local authorities on process and compliance with emphasis on consultation documents; policies and strategies; rating and funding compliance

Other Credentials

  • SGS Reports to the Ministry for the Environment on “Mechanisms for managing urban change” – Legal adviser and peer reviewer
  • Local Government Know How projects on rating and local authority decision making – Legal adviser
  • Brookers Guide to the Local Government Act 2002 and Thomsons Local Government Law in New Zealand – Principal author
  • National Transition Committee for Local Government Reform – A New Century for Local Government – Author of several papers
  • Principal legal adviser to Local Government New Zealand and Taituarā (the Society of Local Government Managers)