Environmental essay prize for final-year student

Final-year Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts student Irenë McGlone recently travelled to Auckland to attend the Environmental Defence Society’s (EDS) annual conference, which she was invited to attend after winning their essay competition for university students.

Irene McGlone at the Environmetal Defence Society conference

The EDS’s essay competition was designed to stimulate interest in environmental law and encourage excellence in legal research and writing. Each New Zealand law school submits its best essays and Honours papers relating to environmental or resource management (RMA) law. Irenë won the prize for an essay she wrote for LAWS 318: Resource Management Law.

“It was great seeing so many top practitioners, judges, current and former Members of Parliament and academics together on panels. They all took very different views on pressing environmental and RMA approaches, but engaged in frank debate with each other about why. It was a really stimulating few days. I am so grateful to Associate Professor Catherine Iorns for entering my essay in the competition.”

Irenë chose her topic based on her interests in law reform and the development of the law in the higher courts.

“My essay analysed the 2018 Court of Appeal decision RJ Davidson, the Court's conservative approach to applying King Salmon ‘environmental bottom lines’ to resource consents and, surveying case law, whether it was open for the Court to take another view.”

“I chose to write about Davidson just a few weeks after the judgment was delivered as I found it was quite enigmatic and left the law in limbo, so I wanted to grapple with it to understand its ramifications and reasoning.”

Her highlight from the conference was not only being able to attend panels and sessions, but also being able to interact directly with people from the environmental law community.

“The Trial Judge in the first instance of Davidson came over to tell me he thought I’d got it right—the judgment made no sense to him. But I suppose if the Court of Appeal overturned you, you would say that!”

The Faculty of Law has been well represented in this competition in the past, with a number of previous winners coming from Victoria University of Wellington.