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Environmental Legal Assistance Fund (ELA Fund)

Closing dates for completed applications and dates of Panel meetings*

Closing Date ELA Fund Meeting Date
20 August 2014 12 September 2014
24 September 2014 17 October 2014
5 November 2014 28 November 2014

* Please note that these dates are subject to the availability of funding and may change.


From 17 May 2013 the Environmental Legal Assistance Fund will be available to fund appeals to the Environment Court and board of inquiry proceedings.

The ELA Fund provides not-for-profit groups with financial assistance to advocate for an environmental issue of high public interest in resource management cases at the Environment Court, and at boards of inquiry constituted under the "Call in" provisions of sections 142 and 147 of the Resource Management Act 1991. Not-for profit groups may include environmental, community, iwi and hapu groups. In general it is expected that groups are incorporated or a Trust. The Fund is not available to individuals.

Applications to the ELA Fund are considered approximately every 5 weeks. Each application is assessed by an independent advisory panel against the ELA Fund’s Primary Criteria and other matters for consideration. The Panel makes recommendations to the Director Operations of the Ministry. The Director Operations makes the final decision on whether to fund an application, under delegated authority from the Chief Executive.

The maximum assistance available is $50,000 (excl GST). The Ministry enters into a Deed of Funding with the group to pay the costs (up to specified amounts) for the specified legal counsel and expert witnesses. Money is not provided directly to the applicant group.

Before a group can apply to the ELA Fund it has to already be engaged in the proceedings in one of the following ways:


Level of engagement required

Proceedings at the Environment Court

Be a party to the case before the court

When the Minister for the Environment has directed a matter to a board of inquiry or the Environment Court if it is a proposal of national significance

Have lodged a submission with the Environmental Protection Authority

When a local authority has directly referred an application to the Environment Court

Groups must be a section 274 party, or a party to the Court proceedings

If you are a prospective applicant to the Fund you will need to study the more detailed Guide to Applicants and the other key documents that are hyperlinked below. The Guide will help you determine whether your group is eligible for funding and to help you answer the questions in the ELA Fund Application Form.

If you have any questions about the Fund, or queries about whether the resource management proceedings you are participating in may be eligible for ELA Funding, please contact us on 0800 499 700.  Prospective applicants are encouraged to discuss their applications with us at an early stage.

Independent expert advisory panel

The independent advisory Panel comprises seven members appointed for their knowledge of environmental law, resource management issues and of community groups and iwi. The members are appointed by the Ministry for the Environment.


  • Dr Royden Somerville QC of Dunedin, Barrister.


  • Dr Huhana Smith of Horowhenua, Mäori Research Leader for Manaaki Taha Moana.
  • Alan Titchener of Havelock North, Landscape Architect
  • Sylvia Allan of Petone, Planner
  • Phil Page of Dunedin, Lawyer and Convener of the New Zealand Law Society’s Environmental Law Committee
  • Mayor Rachel Reese of Nelson, Mayor of Nelson
  • Alan Dormer of Auckland, Barrister.

Guides and forms

Information guide for applicants

Application form (updated in August 2014)

Deed template (for information only because the Ministry prepares the deeds)

Confirmation of work undertaken form (required to accompany all invoices forwarded to the Ministry for payment)

Final report form (please complete and return to the Fund within four weeks of receiving the final decision of the court or board of inquiry).

Update on proceedings reporting form (please complete by 1 June each year until a decision has been made or settlement reached).

Information about previous applications

The tables below summarise all applications since July 2006.


Freephone: 0800 499 700
Phone: +64 4 439 7400
Fax: +64 4 439 7700

Street Address

The ELA Fund
Ministry for the Environment
Environment House
23 Kate Sheppard Place,
New Zealand

Postal Address

The ELA Fund
Ministry for the Environment
PO Box 10362
Wellington 6143
New Zealand


Last updated: 10 October 2014