James Gardner-Hopkins is a renowned barrister practising in New Zealand. Specialising in environmental law and resource management, he makes sure to protect cultural and personal interests of his clients. Having earned his Bachelor of Science degree and Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Auckland, he began his first foray into the world of law.
Having achieved noteworthy outcomes at such a young age, he was awarded an “Outstanding Person” in 2012. He has also authored LexisNexis Practical Guide to Resource Management where he tackles environmental court procedures, regional guidelines and resource management laws.
Childhood and Educational Background
Born to a Niuean factory worker and British schoolteacher parents, there is no doubt that Gardner-Hopkins was raised in a culturally sensitive and aware environment. Perhaps as a result of being exposed to various social, environmental and economic issues at a young age, he began his career at Russel McVeagh focusing on the said issues.
Starting off as a summer clerk at the same company in 1999, he rose to prominent ranks in just a few years. In 2005, he was promoted to Senior Solicitor, and in 2007, he became a Senior Associate and later on became Managing Partner at the firm in 2009.
During his time in the company, he was active in leading the firm’s Environment, Planning and Natural Resources team and the Maori Legal Group.
Today, he busies himself with various causes. Working as the Executive of the National Committee of the Resource Management Law Association, a member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and the president of the National Council and Central Chapter of the New Zealand Institute of Building, James pride himself on sharing his legal experience across a wide spectrum.
With over 15 years of experience in the industry, James is considered as a leading expert in his practice. From environmental planning, heritage concerns, resource management affairs, commercial, residential and industrial infrastructure, he provides excellent advice to all his clients. He also specialises in applications for clients needing judicial reviews as well as Maori legal matters, particularly protecting cultural sites and Waahi Tapu.
James now spends his time managing his own firm, JGH Barrister.
James Gardner-Hopkins acted as business counsel for Kawarau Jet Services Ltd. With clients wanting to operate on a restricted part of a river, he successfully applied for a rule exemption. Through representing KJet, James was able to bring forth new ways which could allow jetboats, kayakers, canoeists and rafters to peacefully and safely coexist with one another.
Seabed Mining Consent
Gardner-Hopkins represented the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board. His clients opposed digging up tons of ironsand at the South Taranaki coast each year. The mining consent initially awarded to the opposing counsel was challenged in court due to insufficient data presented during the application period. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) approved such application despite having inadequate information on the matter.
James rallied to protect at least seven endangered species in the area. By stating the negative effects of mining, such as increased sedimentation and discolouration, he played a great role in upholding the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS).
With numerous achievements in the field, James will certainly continue to be a force to be reckoned with.
Author: Carrie Sze