Dr Kenneth Aitken Palmer

Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD), University of Virginia, 1976 Master of Laws, Harvard University, 1968 Master of Laws (Honours,) University of Auckland, 1966 Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand

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Honorary Academic


Ken Palmer’s teaching and research interests include environmental law, resource management law, and local government law. In the earlier part of his career, folowing the obtaining of an LLM degree from Harvard Law School, he was a lecturer in criminal law, and introduced the subject of civil rights. After completing the SJD degree at the University of Virginia in 1976, the research thesis was revised for publication of the texts Local Government Law, and Planning Law in New Zealand, 1977. Between1978 and 1988, Ken was the editor of New Zealand Recent Law, a monthly bulletin published by the Legal Research Foundation. In 1984, a two volume update of the Planning Law book was published titled Planning and Development Law in New Zealand, and a second addition of Local Government Law in New Zealand was published 1993. Ken contributed two chapters to the Laws of New Zealand publication, comprising "Resource Management Law" (1995) and "Ports and Harbours", (2000). In 1993, Local Government Law in New Zealand (2nd ed) was published. In 2012, a revised text, Local Authorities Law in New Zealand (Brookers) was published.

More recently, Ken has revised 3 chapters and written a new chapter to D Nolan, Environmental and Resource Management Law, LexisNexis 6th ed 2020. That major text has been published as a loose leaf/on line edition. Ken has contributed a chapter 15 on compulsory acquisition and compensation in E Toomey ed, New Zealand Land Law, Thomson Reuters (3rd ed 2017).

In 1997, Ken was the foundation editor of the New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law, and has remained the editor of the annual publication through volume 23  (2019). That journal, published by the Law School has gained an international reputation. In 1998, Ken was a founding member of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law based at the Auckland Law School. He has promoted the teaching of environmental law for non lawyers, and the expansion of the masters programme to allow for entry by persons without a law background. Those students may take the degree Master of Legal Studies (Environmental).

In 2020, Ken was an adviser on the replacement of the Resource Managment Act.

Research | Current

  • Local Government Law
  • Resource Management Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Heritage law
  • Public works acquisitions

Special interests:

  • Land valuation and rating, Maori land valuation and rating
  • Heritage protection, aquaculture, and marina development

Teaching | Current


LAWENVIR 401 - Resource Management Law

Guest lecturer


Postgraduate supervision

Recent Thesis/Dissertation Supervision and Topics

  • Legal Functions of Central and Local Government in respect of Environmental Health (PhD)
  • The Local Government Act 2002 Rationalisation or Reform? (PhD)
  • The Development of Public Authority Liability in Negligence in English Common Law and relevance to Malaysian Local Authorities (LLM)
  • Private Property Rights, Land Use Regulation and the case for economic instruments
  • The Resource Management Act 1991, Building Aesthetics and Auckland City’s Urban Design Panel
  • Biosecurity Law and Practice. To protect the kiwi.
  • Trade Competition under the RMA
  • Māori Wards and Constituencies in the Local Electoral Act 2001: Is it effective law?
  • Shaping the Urban Canopy - Protection and Management of Trees in an Urban Environment
  • Sustainable Management and Coastal Marine Area
  • Legal Obligations Concerning Decision-making and Consultation.
  • Meeting Procedures and Public Access. Comparison between New Zealand and Germany
  • Historic and Cultural Heritage Protection in New Zealand
  • Managing the Environmental Effects of Agriculture: Non Point Discharges
  • Energy Generation and Supply; Sustainable Management and the way ahead
  • The Protection of Māori interests under the RMA
  • Heritage Protection versus Private Property Rights
  • Aggregate Extraction: The Legal Framework in New Zealand
  • Sustainability in the New Zealand context
  • Power, Politics and Water in the Waitaki Catchment
  • Legislative Framework for Agriculture in New Zealand
  • Wetlands: The Laws relating to conservation of New Zealand wetlands
  • International Law Protection of Bottom Trawling
  • Recovering Costs in Environmental Court Proceedings


Areas of expertise

Local government powers and functions, resource management powers, heritage protection, public works powers and practice, Environment Court functions and role

Committees/Professional groups/Services

New Zealnd Law Society member

Auckland District Law Society member

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Palmer, K. A. (2016). Compulsory Acquisition. In J. F. Burrows (Ed.) Land Law (pp. 16-1-16-295). Wellington, New Zealand: Thomson Reuters New Zealand Limited. Related URL.
  • Palmer, K. (2015). Local Government. New Zealand Law Review (2), 317-354. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/28053
  • Palmer, K. A., & Grinlinton, D. (2014). Developments in Renewable Energy Law and Policy in New Zealand. Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 32 (3), 245-272. Related URL.
  • Palmer, K. A. (2013). Environmental Management of Oil and Gas Activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf of New Zealand. Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law, 31 (2), 123-146. 10.1080/02646811.2013.11435325
  • Palmer, K. A. (2012). Local authority liability in New Zealand for defective homes. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 4 (3), 203-216. 10.1108/17561451211273356
  • Palmer, K. A. (2012). Local Government and Resource Management. New Zealand Law Review, 2012 (1), 163-206. Related URL.
  • Palmer, K. A. (2012). Local Authorities Law in New Zealand. Wellington: Thomson Reuters. Pages: 1236.
  • Palmer, K. A. (2011). Heritage. In D. Nolan (Ed.) Environmental and Resource Management Law (pp. 935-993). Wellington: LexisNexis.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/13150

Contact details

Primary office location

9 EDEN CRESCENT - Bldg 801
Level 4, Room 415
New Zealand