Michelle Mehlhopt

LLB (Hons), BCom , Special Counsel

Michelle specialises in resource management, environmental and local government law.  She has expertise in a wide range of areas, including district and regional planning, resource consents, enforcement and strategic advice for local authorities. 

She has been heavily involved in earthquake recovery, urban development and land use planning in Canterbury and is regularly involved in large projects for both private clients and local authorities involving multiple parties and complex issues.

Michelle also has specialist expertise in biosecurity law, assisting councils with the development of regional pest management plans.

Michelle is acknowledged by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022 for her work in resource management.  A client comments that “Michelle is fantastic at conveying often very complicated messages in an understandable way and within the appropriate context” and that they “…would not hesitate in recommending her.”

Michelle works collaboratively with her clients and their staff, strategic partners and other key stakeholders and is solutions focused in her approach. 

Michelle is a 'Making Good Decisions' certificate holder and is accredited to sit as a commissioner on an RMA hearing panel.

  The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms
"I enjoy working with an excellent team at Wynn Williams and with our clients to achieve the best results."

Recent Projects

  • Advising the Greater Christchurch Partnership on its Settlement Pattern Review and requirements under the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity. This involves ongoing strategic advice and briefings to governance groups, collaboration with strategic partners and consultation with key stakeholders.

  • Development of the proposed Canterbury Air Regional Plan and resolution of High Court appeals.

  • Acting for regional councils in the development of plans under the Biosecurity Act 1993 including regional pest management plans for Canterbury and other regions, and the Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Plan.

  • Acting for Environment Canterbury in declaration and enforcement order proceedings lodged by Forest & Bird relating to clearance of indigenous vegetation.

  • Acting for Environment Canterbury on the Christchurch Replacement District Plan, including in relation to natural hazards, indigenous biodiversity, airport noise, transport, subdivision, use and development.

  • Acting for Environment Canterbury in High Court appeals on Christchurch Replacement District Plan.

  • Acting for Environment Canterbury on Environment Court appeals on the Hurunui District Plan.

  • Advising local authorities on the implications of the National Policy Statement for Plantation Forestry.

  • Acting for Environment Canterbury in Falvey v Christchurch City Council (ENV-2016-CC-034)

  • Advising on the drafting of special legislation passed under urgency following the Hurunui/Kaikoura earthquakes.

  • Advising regional councils on resource consent applications for stormwater discharge.

  • Acting for Environment Canterbury and the Urban Development Strategy Partners (now part of the Greater Christchurch Partnership) in relation to earthquake recovery and regeneration matters in Greater Christchurch. This has included the development and implementation of the Land Use Recovery Plan, Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan, Cranford Basin Regeneration Plan and numerous changes to regional and district planning documents to enable recovery and generation.

  • Providing ongoing advice to Environment Canterbury on its Regional Policy Statement, Regional Coastal Environment Plan, Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan and proposed Canterbury Air Regional Plan.

  • Advising local authorities on the development and review of bylaws.

  • Advising on consultation and decision-making requirements for local authorities, including judicial review proceedings.

  • Advising local authorities on submissions on legislative changes and Government inquiries.

  • Advising on obligations and requests made under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

  • Advising on residential, rural, commercial and industrial property purchases and other due diligence.

  • Acting for applicants and submitters on resource consent applications.

  • Advising Airbnb operators.

Recent Articles


Fast-tracking increased housing density for urban environments: Changes proposed to Resource Management Act 1991

Increased housing density has been given the green light through changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 jointly proposed by both Labour and National. The Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was introduced to the House on 19 October 2021. The Bill seeks to make changes to accelerate the implementation of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020.

Keep reading...


Essential freshwater – new rules released for freshwater management

On the eve of the house rising for the last time before the election, Government released the highly anticipated new national direction on freshwater management - a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM 2020), new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NESFW), new stock exclusion regulations, and amendments to the regulations for the measurement and reporting of water takes.

Keep reading...


No longer sustainable? A new direction for New Zealand’s resource management system

In a report released Wednesday 29 July, the Resource Management Review Panel (Panel) recommended major changes to New Zealand’s resource management system.

Keep reading...


‘Accessible Streets’ rule package proposed by the Associate Minister of Transport

The Associate Minister of Transport has proposed an ‘Accessible Streets’ rule package which seeks to improve the safety and efficiency of multiple types of transport.

Keep reading...


COVID-19: Consultation timeframes extended for Government policy documents

The Ministry for the Environment has extended the consultation timeframes for the proposed National Environmental Standards for the Outdoor Storage of Tyres and proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. In addition, the Ministry of Transport has extended the consultation timeframe for the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.

Keep reading...


Keeping New Zealand moving – draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport

The Government is seeking feedback on the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport for 2021/22 – 2030/31 (GPS 2021). The GPS 2021 aims to provide direction to those who are planning, assessing and making decisions on investment of the National Land Transport Fund (Fund) over the next 10 years.

Keep reading...


Local Government – Urgent amendments to legislation to deal with COVID-19 pandemic

This update focuses on the changes to the LGA and the LGOIMA, in relation to holding meetings through audio or audiovisual link, and amendments regarding public access and posting of agendas.

Keep reading...


Government proposes national environmental standard for outdoor tyre storage

The Government is seeking feedback on the proposed National Environmental Standard for the Outdoor Storage of Tyres (NES). When tyres are stored outdoors, they pose a fire risk and can leach toxic substances into the soil and harbour pests.

Keep reading...


The beginning of a new era for Christchurch? Amendments to the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016

Nine years on from the devastating earthquake of February 2011, the Government has heralded a movement to a new era of regeneration for Christchurch through the introduction of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Amendment Bill (Bill) to Parliament.

Keep reading...


A breath of fresh air – Government proposes amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

The Government announced on Wednesday 26 February that it is consulting on proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ). The NESAQ is the primary mechanism for regulating air quality at a national level, with standards covering particulate matter and other pollutants.

Keep reading...


Take 19 – another Resource Management Amendment Act

Last week the Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker, introduced the Resource Management Amendment Bill (Bill) to the house. The Bill proposes to repeal a number of the changes to the RMA that were introduced by the previous coalition Government in the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (RLAA) and otherwise includes some easy ‘wins’ for this Government.

Keep reading...


Planning for successful cities – a proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development

The Government has announced consultation on a new National Policy Statement on Urban Development, intended to replace the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016.

Keep reading...


The pitfalls of Airbnb

In Christchurch, and around the country, home owners and renters alike have been renting out their spare bedrooms and baches to visitors via websites like Airbnb. The explosion in listings on these sites has led to complaints from neighbours about noisy guests (in turn leading to compliance action being taken by district and city councils), and complaints that the hosts (i.e., the person renting the room to guests) are not paying their fair share in rates.

Keep reading...


More changes for local authorities and plantation forestry

As we count down to the National Environment Standards for Plantation Forestry coming into force on 1 May 2018, amendments have been gazetted this week that will have implications for how local authorities recognise the NES in their plans.

Keep reading...


Further protection for New Zealand's marine environment

From 15 May 2018, all commercial and recreational vessel operators will need to comply with the Craft Risk Management Standard (the Standard) for Biofouling on Vessels arriving into New Zealand Territory. This represents a significant step forward in marine biosecurity management in New Zealand as we will become the first country in the world to introduce a nationwide standard for biofouling to prevent pests entering our waters from overseas.

Keep reading...


A new infringement system for conservation related offending

The Conservation (Infringement System) Bill is currently with the Environment Committee and is open for submissions until Friday, 6 April 2018. The Bill provides central and local government agencies with infringement notices as another tool for dealing with lesser offences under conservation legislation.

Keep reading...


National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry

The much anticipated National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry Regulations were notified in the NZ Gazette on 3 August 2017. These Regulations, which come into force on 1 May 2018, establish a new nationwide consenting regime for plantation forestry activities.

Keep reading...


Natural Hazard Management under the RMA

Events such as the Christchurch earthquake sequence of 2010-2011, the November 2016 earthquake in Kaikoura and flooding in the Bay of Plenty earlier this year illustrate the need to effectively plan for, and respond to, natural hazards. Accordingly, the management of natural hazards has been given increasing importance in the recent amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA or Act).

Keep reading...


Have Your Say on the Marlborough Environment Plan

The Marlborough District Council notified the proposed Marlborough Environment Plan (MEP) on 9 June 2016. Now is your opportunity to have your say by lodging a submission.

Keep reading...


Christchurch City Council Plan Review - Another 'Streamlined' Process

The review of the Christchurch City Plan and Banks Peninsula District Plan will be streamlined by an Order in Council made under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 ("CER Act"). The Canterbury Earthquake (Christchurch Replacement District Plan) Order 2014 (the "Order"), which came into force on 8 July 2014, requires the Christchurch City Council ("the Council") to review the existing district plans and develop a replacement district plan. The Order modifies the provisions and application of the Resource Management Act 1991, and remains in force until 19 April 2016.

Keep reading...


The Changing Face of Water Management in Canterbury

Over the last ten years, the focus in Canterbury has been on getting water.  Now that water has been allocated, the focus is now moving to securing the reliability of that water and controlling the discharges associated with its use. This new focus is wider than just dairying, and includes the use of land for any primary production.

Keep reading...


Creswick Valley Residents Association Inc v Wellington City Council [2012] NZHC 644

A recent decision of the High Court in Creswick Valley Residents Association Inc v Wellington City Council [2012] NZHC 644 may have significant implications for Councils and their public notification obligations under the First Schedule of the RMA.

Keep reading...

Reported Decisions

  • Independent Fisheries Limited v Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery [2014] NZHC 959; [2014] NZHC 2810; [2015] NZHC 1353

  • Independent Fisheries Limited v Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery [2013] 2 NZLR 397 (SCNZ)

  • Canterbury Regional Council v Independent Fisheries Limited [2013] 2 NZLR 57 (CA)

  • Independent Fisheries Limited v Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery [2012] NZAR 785 (HC)

  • Cashmere Park Trust v Canterbury Regional Council [2012] NZEnvC 209

  • Kiwi Property Holdings Ltd v Christchurch City Council [2012] NZEnvC 92

  • Belfast Park Limited v Christchurch City Council [2011] NZEnvC 398

  • Canterbury Regional Council v Birchbrook Limited DC Christchurch CRI-2010-009-11694, 22 September 2011

  • Thacker v Christchurch City Council [2010] NZEnvC 246

  • Hampton v Hampton [2010] NZRMA 412

  • Canterbury Fields Management Limited v Waimakariri District Council [2011] NZEnvC 199

  • Association for Independent Research Inc v Canterbury Regional Council NZEnvC Christchurch C136/08, 12 December 2008

  • Crouchley v Ashburton District Council NZEnvC Christchurch C061/08, 21 May 2008

  • Brooklands Properties 2000 Ltd v Road Metals Company Ltd NZEnvC Christchurch C164/07, 19 December 2007

  • Christchurch City Council v New Zealand Chemical Care and Storage Limited NZEnvC Christchurch C124/07, 31 August 2007


  • Making Good Decisions certificate holder

  • Auckland District Law Society

  • Resource Management Law Association

  • Property Council of New Zealand
Share this page on social media:

Enter security code:
 Security code


Wynn Williams Client Toolkit

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with stylesheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so. The latest version of Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome will work best if you're after a new browser.