New Zealand based Barrister, James Gardner-Hopkins specialises in Resource Management, Environment, Planning, and Natural Resources Law. I provide you commercial advice and litigation strategy to best secure the results you need.
I am passionate about building a better New Zealand, and helping my clients contribute to that outcome.
I was born in Auckland, to a British school teacher and a Niuean factory worker. I grew up largely in London, but returned home to New Zealand to finish my education and be closer to my family here. I completed a BSc in Biological Sciences and LLB (honours) at Auckland University from 1996-2001.
I summer clerked at Russell McVeagh in 1999, returning as a casual clerk in 2000 and starting full time in February 2001. I was promoted to Senior Solicitor in 2005, Senior Associate in 2007, and became a Partner in 2009. In my last two years before retiring from partnership and moving to the independent bar, I led the firm's national Environment, Planning, and Natural Resources team, as well as the firm’s Maori Legal Group.
I was originally based in Russell McVeagh’s Auckland office, where I worked closely with New Zealand’s most senior environmental lawyer Derek Nolan, and leading environmental and Maori legal lawyers Paul Majurey and Christian Whata (now Whata J). I cut my litigation teeth on the “Supermarket Wars”, including the Discount Brands, Wairau Pak ‘N Save, Billimag and other hard fought cases, before trade competitors were (mostly) barred from participating in each other’s consenting processes. That grounding developed into a wider judicial review speciality, as well as litigation experience spanning areas as diverse as aquaculture, jet boats, airports, schools, mining, water, and sites of Waahi Tapu – and all the way from the Environment Court, through to Boards of Inquiry, and to the Supreme Court.
In 2009, I moved to Russell McVeagh’s Wellington office to develop the firm’s presence in Wellington and the South Island. I have worked with and alongside the Ministry for the Environment, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (including New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals), and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
I was awarded the "Outstanding Person" award by Straterra (the group representing the mining and minerals industry) in 2012, and have been on the National Council and Central Chapter of the New Zealand Institute of Building (the voice of the construction industry) since 2014. I am on the Executive of the National Committee of the Resource Management Law Association. I am also an active member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.