Derek Nolan QC


Telephone: +64 9 307 9969

Mobile: +64 27 592 0872

[email protected]

Post: PO Box 1571, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140, New Zealand

Derek Nolan QC has over 40 years’ experience as counsel in environmental, resource management, planning, natural resources and local government law and in public works claims.  He is frequently sought after as counsel to lead major or complex projects in these areas of the law, to provide strategic advice, to secure all types of resource consents or other approvals, to resolve “road blocks” or other disputes, to facilitate development activities and to provide reports or opinions.  Derek has widespread contacts, as well as extensive links with many of the country’s leading experts, and he brings these strengths to any case he is involved with.

Derek has been called a “top performer in environmental law” by respected sources, wins particular praise for his depth of knowledge and strategic vision” – Chambers and Partners Global, is listed as a leading environmental and resource management barrister in Doyle’s Guide 2019 and is acknowledged in International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers. Derek is the recipient of an “Outstanding Person Award” from the Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand “for his leadership and commitment to excellence in resource management practice.”

Derek is also the winner of two other awards from the Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand, a Joint Winner of the New Zealand Deal of the Year in the ALB Australasian Law Awards (the Auckland Local Government Reorganisation) where Derek was a key legal adviser to the Auckland Transition Agency, and a Joint Winner of the Commercial Property and Construction Deal of the Year for Australia and New Zealand in the ALB Australasian Law Awards (Auckland Waterfront Redevelopment), where Derek was the key legal adviser on all environmental and resource management law issues.

Derek is also the Editor and an author of the leading environmental law textbook in New Zealand ‘Environmental and Resource Management law’ (Lexis Nexis)

Recent and Notable Cases


Recent Projects where Derek was senior counsel and strategic adviser include:

  • Coastal and waterfront developments for Panuku Development Auckland, the Auckland Waterfront Development Agency and predecessors, Ports of Auckland Limited and Kennedy Point Marina Limited including extensions of Westhaven Marina; the proposed new marina at Kennedy Point, Waiheke Island; the America’s Cup infrastructure for the 2020 Defence, including the syndicate bases and the Event on Auckland’s Waterfront; the Park Hyatt Hotel in the Wynyard Quarter; the rezoning for industrial, restaurant, office and residential use of Wynyard Quarter including the North Wharf development; the Cloud and Shed 10 on Queens Wharf; the restaurant, residential and office use of Princes Wharf; the restaurant, office, retail, hotel and residential use of the Viaduct Harbour; the NZ Maritime Museum at Hobson Wharf; luxury lodges at Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers; coastal residential development for Williams Land at Weiti; and various marinas, residential canal projects and coastal land developments at Westhaven, Gulf Harbour, Pine Harbour, Beachlands and Bayswater.
  • Port projects and port planning for Ports of Auckland Limited (Fergusson Container Terminal, port dredging, Viaduct Harbour, Princes Wharf, Westhaven Marina, Bledisloe Terminal) and for other ports around New Zealand. Representing all port companies in New Zealand on environmental issues affecting the industry generally.
  • Aquaculture activities including the NZ King Salmon application before the Board of Inquiry, High Court and Supreme Court.
  • Commercial retail and residential developments for SKYCITY, Precinct Properties, Westfield (NZ) Limited, Scentre (NZ) Limited, AMP, and  others for numerous projects including the NZ International Convention Centre; the Commercial Bay 40 level tower and retail redevelopment of Lower Queen Street, Kipling Street Hospital, St Luke’s Shopping Centre, 277 Broadway, 309 Broadway, Albany Centre, West City, Riccarton, PricewaterhouseCoopers Tower, Deloittes Building, Broadway Park residential development, Auckland Racing Club residential, retirement home and hotel rezoning at Ellerslie, and various office and apartment towers and residential complexes;
  • Water and waste infrastructure, electricity distribution and related facilities and telecommunications, including securing suitable policy statement and plan provisions and resource consents for existing plant and facilities or proposed new facilities, including the Hobson Bay and Central Interceptor wastewater tunnels and pipelines, wastewater treatment plants, wastewater discharges, water abstractions, electricity lines, and mobile telephone antennae, for Watercare, Vector and various network utility operators.
  • Airport and aviation activities for Auckland International Airport Limited at Auckland Airport and airport planning for Air New Zealand Limited and the Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand Inc. for airports at Whangarei, Tauranga, Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Queenstown, Dunedin and Invercargill.
  • Ferry terminals and rail infrastructure for TranzRail, ONTRACK and Kiwirail including proposed terminals at Clifford Bay, Marlborough and Wellington, new double tracking of lines in Auckland, new branch lines and electrification.
  • Industrial plants and activities, warehousing, quarries, sand extraction, and other commercial and industrial projects, including land rezoning, subdivision, land use consents, air emissions, discharges to water, water abstractions or diversions, coastal permits (industrial and business zoning of land for Auckland Airport and for Stevenson Group at Drury, quarries for Winstone Aggregates, on-shore and off-shore sand extraction for Kaipara Limited, various tanneries and asphalt plants).
  • Educational and health facilities, including new school buildings, swimming pool and
    turf complexes, performing arts centres and hospital redevelopments.
  • Application to remove significant heritage scheduled trees and buildings involving publicly notified applications and securing consents.
  • Appearances before numerous Select Committees of Parliament in support of submissions on legislation and have prepared and obtained special legislation to provide commercial and environmental powers, including negotiations and liaison with Government and other parties.
  • Providing “Lessons Learnt” reports to public agencies or major utilities after significant consenting cases and providing independent reports or opinions to councils where complaints have been made about council processes.

Qualifications and Career

Derek Nolan was for 30 years an environmental and resource management law partner at Russell McVeagh, based in Auckland. He moved to the separate Bar in December 2014 and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2016.

He is the editor and an author of Environment and Resource Management Law (LexisNexis) for the second, third, fourth, fifth and (current) sixth editions and for the online edition. This publication has twice won awards from the Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand and is the leading environmental law text in New Zealand, used extensively by university students and by legal and other practitioners and by the Courts. He was a guest lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Auckland in the resource management law course for 16 years. He has been a guest lecturer in the same paper at Victoria University.

Derek was a founder and the second President of the Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand and remains actively involved in the work of the Association. He is a former Vice-Chairman of the Environmental Law Committee of the Business Law Section of the International Bar Association and was for many years a member of the Environmental Law Committee of the New Zealand Law Society, including being the convenor of the Committee from 2002-2006.

Derek has represented the New Zealand Law Society before many Select Committees of Parliament. He was a member of the New Zealand Council of Legal Education and has chaired many New Zealand Law Society/Continuing Education’s Environmental Law Intensives. He has chaired or presented at numerous other legal conferences.


LLB (Hons), University of Auckland
LLM, University of London (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Professional Qualifications

Admitted to the New Zealand Bar in 1976.

Other professional for community involvement

Immediate Past President of The Northern Club
Past Chairman of the Partnership, Russell McVeagh
Past Deputy Chairman and Ambassador New Zealand Maritime Museum
Past Member of Board of Governors, Diocesan School for Girls and currently member of the Board’s Campus Committee
Member of the Completion Committee of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland
Past Trustee, Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital, Auckland