SKP nails it in front of High Court

Yesterday, (Tuesday 2 June 2020) SKP’s formidable barrister, James Gardner-Hopkins spoke to the High Court in front of Justice Gault on behalf of SKP’s 4 year battle to save Kennedy Point.

Flanked by resident SKP supporters, including the original battlers Thomas Greve and Kathryn Ngapo, the second-wavers ‘Kathy Voyles, Jeanne Reynolds, Jacqueline Carter and Ngāti Pāoa reps Donella Roebeck, Dave Roebeck and Karla Allies - for almost 5 hours and with over 1000 pages of Court materials, James did us proud.

He spoke to the Court of where it all started and took it on the rocky and unforgiving journey that led us to this, our second appeal in front of the High Court. In what, at times, appeared like a legal Grand Slam tennis final, Justice Gault lobbed questions, and James batted the answers back.......

  • How does the alleged errors of the Environment Court meet the section 294 thresholds for an appeal?
  • Does SKP’s points of appeal constitute ‘errors of law’?
  • Why does SKP say the evidence of the Trust Board is important?
  • Is section 266 of the RMA a bar to the High Court reviewing the Environment Court’s decision not to allow a Māori Land Court judge to sit on the rehearing application?
  • How may the Māori Land Court challenge affect the appeal?

SKP’s Appeal was a masterclass in legal argument, both complex and simple. The simplicity namely was that the Environment Court was wrong in rejecting SKP’s application for rehearing, it was wrong because the new evidence of Ngāti Pāoa that it does not support the marina is important and may have led to the marina application being declined.

Complex because for any appeal, the bar is set so much higher, and dependent on the strictures of the law which to quote the famous Judge Lord Denning “the law is [at times] an ass”. Auckland Council, who was apparently “neutral'' on the application, and whose lawyers had informed the Court that Auckland Council would simply “abide by the Court’s decision”, stood and spoke for an hour and a half.

Funded by our taxpayers’ money, the so-called neutral lawyer for Auckland Council had an awful lot of not so neutral things to say against SKP’s appeal. And in the end, none of us were any wiser as to whether Auckland Council believed it was important to consult with all mana whenua, not just the ones that support Council’s interests.

When it was finally the Developer’s turn, Paul Majurey lawyer for Kennedy Point Boat Harbour Limited (KPBH) stood, spoke for half an hour, and then sat back. The impression KPBH left on those watching was one of exasperation, clearly irritated that an incorporated society, community group and Ngāti Pāoa Trust Board had dared to stand in KPBH’s way and had dared to try and save a small quiet public bay from a private commercial marina development.

Before the Court was adjourned, James stood on behalf of SKP one last time, and exchanged a brief closing reply with Justice Gault. The Ngāti Pāoa Trust Board offered a rousing karakia in the courtroom foyer. And with that our day in court was over, with the decision now resting firmly in the hands of His Honour Justice Gault.

With over 10 questions of law to consider, and a result that will most likely set important precedent for future appeals and cases involving considerations of Māori Cultural values, we expect the decision will be carefully crafted.

So whatever the outcome, the incredible legacy of this battle will likely outlive SKP, the Developer, and ‘Papatūānuku-willing’ without the blight of a marina at Kennedy Point.

SKP will advise as soon as the High Court judgment is handed down.

Thank you to our Legal Team and all our supporters; we could not have done this without you.