Curriculum Vitae 2014

Thomas Hugh Bennion

LLB (Hons), BA (History), Victoria University of Wellington 1987
Barrister & solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand

Part time lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington since 1997:

Law School
• Laws 318 Resource Management Law 1997, 1998?, 1999, 2000?
• Laws 316 Maori Land Law 2003 with Paul Meredith, several lectures in 2009

School of Earth Sciences
• ENVI 503 Environmental and Resource Management Law 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
• ENVI 522 Environmental Law 2010, 2011
• ENVI 523 Planning & The Resource Management Act 2010, 2011

Ministry for the Environment RMA education project. In conjunction with Paul Meredith presenting a series of 2 days workshops to iwi groups about the RMA and environmental issues, understanding how local government and district and regional planning works and cost effective ways of participating and achieving change. Presentations in Gisborne, Hokianga, Murupara, Tauranga, Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Kawakawa.

Occasional lecturer in trust, land constitutional law at Te Wananga o Raukawa, Otaki 1996, 1997.

VUW Treaty of Waitangi Course November 2007
Private practice
In sole practice since 1995 and now runs a small firm as a barrister/solicitor, Bennion Law (www., employing one other lawyer, a practice manager, and research associates as required for particular projects. Specialising in environmental law, indigenous land claims and public/administrative law, and Maori land law. A senior legal aid provider for the Waitangi Tribunal.

Clients include or have included iwi and hapu groups in Gisborne, Wellington, Whanganui, National Park, Central North Island, King Country, South Island, and the Waitangi tribunal itself (legal opinion work and report drafting). Has been involved in claims covering both historic issues (land loss, Crown military action) and contemporary matters (eg hydro developments in ancestral rivers).

Environmental law work is mainly with community groups before the Environment Court, but also numerous private individuals. Matters cover the range from wind farms to subdivisions to river pollution. Also provides advice to two national organisations on resource management issues (in the area of mental health and siting of new facilities). He makes regular appearances in the Environment Court (on both mediations and hearings) and less often at the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Also works on related public law matters such as animal welfare, genetic modification and Maori governance.
Government lawyer
From September 1988 to November 1993 worked as the legal officer for the Waitangi Tribunal. The work included:

• Meeting with claimant groups to assist in the preparation of claims and to discuss research needs;
• Preparation for the Chairperson and other Tribunal members of opinions on the legal implications of claims received, and on the application of Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 and other legislation to the work of the Tribunal;
• Assisting the Director and Research Manager with budget and research management;
• Assisting claims administration staff with the processing of claims and ensuring notification and other natural justice requirements were met;
• Answering numerous public and some media enquiries about particular claims and the work of the Tribunal generally;
• Attending Tribunal hearings raising significant legal issues, to assist with the management of the hearings and with preparation of the final report;
• Attending meetings at schools, polytechnics etc and marae to discuss the work of the Tribunal;
• Preparing legal-historical opinions for the Tribunal on research which it had commissioned;
• Maintaining a manual of consolidated legislation affecting the Tribunal.

From January 1992 I was also a legal adviser for head office of the Maori Land Court. This work included:

• Preparing legal opinions to advise the head office on matters before the Court with implications for the Justice Department;
• Giving advice on legislation affecting the work of the Court eg historic places.
Research Supervision
From February to November 1993 I was also acting research manager for the Waitangi Tribunal. This work included management of 8-10 research staff, and involved:

• The discussion of work programmes and achievement of work goals;
• Undertaking performance reviews;
• Weekly meetings of all research staff to discuss common research issues;
• Providing opinions on draft research reports and discussing improvements;
• Assisting with putting into place the Tribunal’s national research initiative, Rangahaua Whanui.

External Examiner report. Jens Schuering “Mana Whenua – Indigenous Land Ownership in New Zealand”. LLM Thesis Laws 591 August 2003.

PhD examination. Michael Strack. Rebel Rivers. May 2008.

Report on LLM Research Paper. Leonard Bar. Resource Management law in New Zealand and in Germany. Feb 2004.
Other work
Served for two and a half years on the Environmental Legal Aid Committee which considers assistance for community groups taking public interest cases before the Environment Court.

Researcher for the Law Commission report, The Treaty of Waitangi and Maori Fisheries. Matai : Nga Tikanga Maori Me Te Tiriti O Waitangi. 1985-86.

Management Issues for Crown Pastoral Leases. Paper for the Commission for the Environment 1984.

New Zealand Land Law, Chapters 1 “Introduction”, 5 “Maori land”, 14 “Legislation Restricting Private Land Use”. Thompson Reuters 2009

The Waitangi Tribunal. Ed by Janine Hayward & Nicola R. Wheen. Part Two, Chapter 6, “Land Reports” (2004).

“Lands under the sea: foreshore and seabed.” In Waitangi revisited: perspectives on the Treaty of Waitangi, edited by Michael Belgrave and others, 233–247. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Making Sense of the Foreshore and Seabed. To Bennion, Malcolm Birdling, Rebecca Paton. The Maori Law Review 2004.

The Carbon Forest. A New Zealand guide to forest carbon sinks for investors, foresters and conservationists. Kennett Bros November 2010.

Maori Affairs in The Laws Of New Zealand. With Geoffrey Melvin. Butterworths October 2000.

Finding a Path Through Local Planning Processes: A Handbook for Providers of Accommodation for People with Mental Illness. Mental Health Commission (2000).

Supported Accommodation for People with Mental Illness: A Survey of Council Plans-Discussion Paper. Mental Health Commission (2000).

The Maori Law Review. A monthly review of Law affecting Maori. Published monthly (11 issues per year, combined December January issue) by Bennion Law since December 1994, including an editorial note in most issues. The Review has subscribers in the US, Canada and UK.

“Treaty-Making In The Pacific In The Nineteenth Century And The Treaty Of Waitangi.” VUW Law Review Volume 35 – issue 1 p 165.
Ngati Awa And Other Claims (Wai 46 & Ors). With Anita Miles. Waitangi Tribunal September 1995.

Research Report On The Parikino Block Claim. Wai 214. Waitangi Tribunal February 2011.

Whanganui River Report. Research Report for Urgent Hearing Wai 167. Waitangi Tribunal March 1994.

Report on Ratings claims. Wai 284 & others.

Report on the Immigration claim. Wai 223.

Te Wera Forest claim, Taranaki-Ngati Maru.

Report on the Ngati Tai-South Auckland claim. Wai 96.

Kororipo Pa report. Waitangi Tribunal October 1998.

Reports for the Rangahau Whanui series :

National Theme I: Maori and Rating Law.
National Theme P: The Maori Land Court & Maori Land Boards 1909-1952.
National Theme P: Succession to Maori Land 1900-1952.

RMA Hearings. Options for less adversarial, more inquisitorial approaches
Ministry for the Environment. June 2004.

Taking Collective Rights Seriously. Report for the Ministry of Justice
December 1996.

Seminars / conference papers
“Recent Decisions And Developments In RMA Case Law” Brightstar conference – Working with the RMA. September 2009

“Maori rights to water: an historical overview” Water & Maori conference. July 2009.

“Freshwater issues – who owns the water in rivers, lakes and streams?” Maori Legal Forum. July 2007.

“Considerations of Maori Customary Law under New Zealand Law”. 2nd Annual Maori Legal Forum. October 2003.

“RMA – A Review Of Recent Decisions And Developments”. NZ Law Society National Seminar Series. August 2003.

“Making sure your policy is Treaty compliant. How government departments should approach the Treaty. Implications of the Local Government Act.” The 5th Public Law Forum Conference 2003. March 2003.

“Consultation, Maori values and the RMA 1991 – ways forward.” Maori Legal Forum October 2002.

“Maori Values and Tikanga Consultation under the RMA 1991 and the Local Government Bill – Possible Ways Forward”. Inaugural Maori Legal Forum Conference. October 2002. Robert Joseph and Tom Bennion.

“The Treaty and the future of the RMA”. Dunedin Law School lecture unpublished.
May 2002.

“Water: Values, Uses, Rights, Laws”. Paper for FIRST Conference – Maori and water in the Environment Court.

“The search for a principled approach in the consideration of Maori issues”. April 2000.

Te Karaka magazine opinion column on legal issues (since 2004).

“The Foreshore Debate. A New Deal?” Spring 2011

“Crown dishonour.” Winter 2010
“Custom in the High Court.” Autumn 2010
“Babes in the Wood.” Summer 2010
“Te Reo Maori Objections.” Spring 2010

“No Maori Seats on the Auckland Bus.” Winter 2009
‘After one generation”. Autumn 2009.
“Wahi tapu. No touching, no discussion.” Winter 2007
“Rates rethink overdue.” Autumn 2007
“Turning up the heat on climate change.” Spring 2007

“The River Quandry.” Winter 2006
“National parks. The ownership juggle.” Autumn 2006
“Ripples from the Foreshore.” Summer 2006
“Water allocation.” Spring 2006

“Sticks and Stones.” Winter 2005
“A supremely pragmatic constitutional arrangement.” Autumn 2005
“The Waitangi Tribunal still needed.” Summer 2005
“Treaty Settlement Dates Lack rigour.” Spring 2005

Review of “Climate Law In Australia”. Edited by Tim Bonyhady and Peter Christoff. The Federation Press, Sydney, 2007. pp315. New Zealand Geographer. Volume 65, Issue 2, pages 160–161, August 2009.

“Access to Minerals” Policy Quarterly Volume 7 – Number 1 – February 2011 (forthcoming).


Dr Ralph Chapman
Associate Professor,
School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences
Phone: 04 463 6153

Professor Elizabeth Toomey
Canterbury Shool of Law
Phone: +64 3 364 2987
Extension: 8793
Professor Richard Boast
Phone:0-4-463 6312
Fax:0-4-463 6365

Biographical/personal details

Born 10 November 1963, in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Married with three lovely children (10 years, 7 years and 4 years).

Excellent health.