Rachel Devine

Sustainability Leader and Partner - Sustainability

Rachel is one of the foremost environmental and resource management lawyers in the country and our firm’s Sustainability Leader – Pou Toitūtanga.  Rachel relishes helping people make a positive impact and take actions towards a more just world.

Rachel advises both private and public sector clients.  With lengthy experience in solving problems where people and the environment connect, Rachel provides practical, down-to-earth solutions in any context.  She assists clients with strategy development as well as delivery of complex projects interfacing with the environment.  She helps navigate risks relating to hazards, pollution, and climate change.  Rachel also advises on environmental dispute resolution, from mediation and negotiation to litigation throughout the court system.

Her private sector clients operate across a broad range of industries including energy and resources, forestry, aged care, financial services and health infrastructure.  She regularly assists Māori governance entities with environmental matters.

Clients seek Rachel’s environmental and planning advice on the sale or purchase of businesses and assets.  She has significant experience with complex approvals (including resource consents and plan changes) for major industrial and infrastructure projects.  She also works at the forefront of environmental innovation, having advised on projects to pilot hydrogen and create methane inhibitors using seaweed.

Rachel has been centrally involved in all environmental reforms of the last decade including climate change, emissions trading, urban development, special housing areas, and changes to the Resource Management Act.  She is the primary legal adviser to the New Zealand Government on its comprehensive and transformational reform of the entire resource management system.  She advises on sustainability issues and on climate change law and policy.  With the Government’s focus on COVID-19 recovery and climate change adaptation and mitigation, Rachel has been providing innovative advice about fast-tracking consenting processes.  She has assisted with specialist legislation to respond to this crisis.

An expert in environmental regulation, Rachel advises clients (including banks, other organisations, and regulators) on fraught issues of compliance, monitoring, and enforcement.  She can help with regulatory requirements relating to products and services, including climate change commitments and components of products.  She acts on appeals and judicial reviews of environmental decisions including climate litigation.

Rachel also advises on Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) obligations.  She assists Māori governance entities to implement their environment strategies and with regulatory compliance.  She advises on claims including under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act, assisting with the preparation of evidence and negotiations.

Major legal directories recognise Rachel for her expertise in environment and resource management law.  Clients appreciate her approachability and her calm and confident manner.  She is described as a “subject matter expert on environmental law” who is able “to quickly understand client needs and deliver advice that is practical and clear.”  One client says: “She brings excellent insight into the field of resource management from her extensive experience” – Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022.

In recognition of her environmental expertise, Rachel was appointed by the Minister for the Environment to the Environmental Legal Assistance Fund and was President of the New Zealand Resource Management Law Association from 2018-2019.

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Professional background

Recent work

Opposing proposed landfill

Acting for Ngā Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara Development Trust (Ngāti Whatua o Kaipara) in their appeal against Auckland Council’s decision to grant a resource consent for Waste Management’s proposed new landfill in Dome Valley.

Archaeological sites at Ihumātao

Advising Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga on its decision to grant archaeological authority to Fletcher Residential Limited to modify or destroy archaeological sites known as Ihumātao, which was upheld by the Environment Court.

Hydrogen Demonstration Project

Advising Ports of Auckland on strategic environmental aspects of the Hydrogen Demonstration Project including regulatory and legislative requirements and climate change policy implications.

Supporting Ports of Auckland sustainability goals

Assisting Ports of Auckland with its vision to become a leading sustainable port at the global level – socially, economically, and environmentally.  Advising on POAL’s engagement with Māori, the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and how these may be affected by upcoming reforms.

Successful resource consent application

Assisting Z Energy to obtain resource consent to develop and operate a new service station in Rolleston subject to favourable conditions.

Ministry of Transport on Light Rail in Auckland

Advising the Ministry of Transport on strategic environmental aspects of the procurement process for Light Rail in Auckland.

Admitted

  • 2000, England and Wales
  • 1996, New Zealand

Qualifications

  • LLB (Hons), University of Waikato

Affiliations

  • Member, International Environmental Lawyers Network
  • Member, Resource Management Law Association (President 2018-2019)

Specialisations

  • Climate Change
  • Litigation and Dispute Resolution
  • Energy and Resources
  • Environment and Planning
  • Forestry
  • Government
  • Infrastructure
  • Māori and Treaty Negotiations
  • Public Law
  • Sustainability

Awards

  • Ranked as a leading Environment and Resource management lawyer, Chambers Asia-Pacific & Global
  • Recognised in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific's Hall of Fame - Projects and Resource Management
  • Recognised for Environmental Law, Best Lawyers
  • Winner – Environment Lawyer of the Year New Zealand, Corporate LiveWire (2016)
  • International Who's Who Environment Lawyer (2011-2019)
  • Recognised as a leading Environment practitioner, Expert Guides: Women in Business Law (2021)