Other topics and guidance of use and relevance to Conservation Boards.

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14.1 Legal and professional advice

Boards should only engage legal and other professional services to assist with a decision, or deal with an issue (for example, a matter arising in the course of exercising their statutory advocacy function), with the prior approval of the Operations Director.

Where prior discussion with DOC staff is impracticable, or inappropriate, it is recommended that the Board Chair discuss the issue with the DOC Governance Unit and/or the NZCA Chair before initiating matters. 

The Board Chair must notify the Director-General (or their nominee) prior to instructing any external legal party.

14.2 Consultancy services provided by Board members

Members should not undertake paid consulting work for the Board that would otherwise be contracted to a third party. This does not preclude a member from undertaking assignments for the Board that fall within the scope of their normal duties.

Boards should exercise caution around involvement with an organisation that any of their members has a substantial commercial, professional interest, or employment relationship with. A conflict of interest could potentially arise for a member if the Board:

  • engages an organisation for a one-off contract assignment; or
  • forms an ongoing relationship with an organisation, for example, through their provision of professional services.

In the first situation, provided that the member concerned declares their interest in the organisation concerned and takes appropriate actions (i.e. refrains from voting on a matter concerning that organisation), it is unlikely that the organisation needs to be prevented from undertaking the assignment. However, the member concerned should not be directly involved in that organisation’s provision of service or advice to the Board.

The second situation raises greater concern. A Board should not enter into an ongoing relationship with any organisation that any of its members has a relationship with, of the nature described above.

See section 9 of this Manual for more information on conflicts of interest.

14.3 Select committee appearances

Select committees provide an opportunity for Members of Parliament across all political parties to question, or receive information on a matter, in the presence of the public. It is very unusual for a Conservation Board to appear before a select committee, but may occur in some limited circumstances, for example:

  • The Board may be asked to advise a select committee regarding an inquiry or proposed legislation
  • The Board may wish to make a submission (and appear in support of that submission) on a bill that may affect its area of operation
  • A select committee may receive a complaint or petition from members of the public about a Board, which may then be called in to respond.

14.4 Parliamentary questions

DOC is responsible for responding to Parliamentary questions addressed to the Minister.  DOC may seek information from a Board to assist with developing a response; if so, a timely response will be required from the Board.

14.5 Liability and protection from legal claims or proceedings

No Board member shall be personally liable for any default made by the Board, or by any member of a Board if they act in good faith in the course of their operations. Refer section 42 of the Conservation Act.

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