The IHP hearings process

Step 5: What should I do before the hearing?

  1. Book your hearing time – you can find instructions on how to do this in your hearing notification.
  2. Provide your evidence (see your hearing notification for instructions and the our process page for examples of well-prepared evidence and legal submissions). You do not have to provide evidence – you can just talk to your submission at the hearing.
  3. Check the hearings page to view evidence from other submitters.
  4. If you want to cross-examine anyone about their evidence, use the "Notice of Cross Examination" form under "Hearing Schedule Documents" on the hearings page.
  5. Check the Parties and Issues report (see step 2). This will be updated on the hearings page to show what has happened leading up to the hearing.
  6. Organise your material and what you will say. You will have ten minutes to speak, unless the Panel has agreed to give you more time.

Note: Some topics will have an expert conference where the experts on a topic get together to agree the technical facts to present to the hearing. The Parties and Issues report will tell you what was agreed.

Frequently asked questions

What is a hearing?

Hearings are an opportunity for you as a submitter to present your views on the particular hearing topic.

The hearings on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan will be run by an Independent Hearings Panel. There will be at least three panel members at every hearing.

Where will the hearings be held?

Most of the hearings will be held in the Panel's hearing rooms on level 16 at 205 Queen St. Occasionally a hearing may be held in another location. Please check the details in your hearing notice or on the hearings page.

Who can attend a hearing?

Anyone may attend a hearing as these are open to the public (including the media). However, you can only speak at a hearing if you have made a submission or further submission and said on your submission that you wished to be heard. You can speak yourself or have someone else speak on your behalf.

Please note you do not need to have a lawyer or expert to take part in the hearing.

When will I be heard?

If you have said in your submission or told the panel office that you want to be heard, the panel office will send you a notice well before the hearing to let you know the date, time and location of the hearing. You can book a time to attend by following the instructions in your hearing notice.

You will need to book into a session rather than a specific time. There are usually four sessions a day. If you have to leave by a particular time you can let the hearing administrator know on the day.

Sometimes the hearing schedule or your session booking may change at short notice. The final decision about scheduling and the order of speakers lies with the Panel. The hearing administrator will contact you as soon as possible if there is any change to the day or time you are required to attend.

Notices of the hearing for each topic will be available on the hearings page, as well as all the reports and evidence for that hearing.

What do I need to do before a hearing session?

It is a good idea before the hearing to make a list of the main points from your submission, and any supporting evidence, that you want to get across. You will not have time at the hearing to read out your submission or evidence in full, or for your witnesses to read their evidence.

You do not have to provide any evidence in support of your submission if you feel that your submission already makes your views clear.

Before the hearing you should also check the hearings page to read the latest version of the Parties and Issues report and all the evidence relevant to your hearing topic.

If you or your representative wants to question a witness brought along by another submitter then you need to make this request to the hearing administrator before the hearing by the due date (the hearing notice will tell you how to do this). This is known as cross-examination.

What is cross-examination and questioning?

This is where the Panel asks further questions of witnesses or allows questioning from other parties in the hearing to clarify the information presented. Any submitter wanting to be heard (or their representatives) can make a request to cross-examine.

Cross-examination or questioning of a witness will normally only be permitted where:

  • The witness is an expert; or
  • It helps the Panel to better understand an issue; or
  • Conflicting evidence needs to be put to the witness.

If you want to cross-examine a witness at the hearing, you will need to tell the hearing administrator and the party who will be calling the witness. You will need to say who you wish to cross-examine, the aspects of their evidence you want to question and how long this might take. You do this by sending a "Notice of Cross Examination" (under "Hearing Schedule Documents" on the hearings page) at least three working days before the hearing. This is explained in your notice of the hearing.

The Panel will make all notices of cross-examination available on the hearings page.

What happens at the hearing?

The hearing is a formal process and is similar to going to court. At all times the Chair of the hearing session will be referred to as either Mr Chair or Madam Chair. When Judge Kirkpatrick is chairing, he will be referred to as Judge or Your Honour.

At the start of the hearing session, the Chair will introduce the Panel and then he/she will briefly explain what will happen at the hearing.

Before the hearing session, the Panel will read submissions and any evidence provided. This will mean less time is needed in the hearing to present information and ask questions.

The Panel will limit your speaking time.

The Panel will call you forward when it is your turn to speak. You will be invited to tell the Panel your key points if you have provided written evidence. You will not be asked to read out your submission or evidence in full.

After you (or your representative) have presented your views, members of the Panel may ask questions to clarify the information presented. Cross-examination, usually of expert witnesses by other parties, may be allowed provided a notice to cross-examine has been lodged within time. Please see cross-examination and questioning below for further detail on this.

When all the speakers for that hearing session have been heard, the Chair will close the hearing and everyone leaves the room.

Witnesses appearing at hearing sessions

All expert and non-expert witnesses must attend hearing sessions in person. The Chair will ask all witnesses to confirm that their evidence is true and correct.

All witnesses will need to present a brief summary of their evidence.

If a witness is unable to come to the hearing session, they will have to contact the hearing administrator to make other arrangements.

What is evidence?

Evidence is material that you wish to present to the Independent Hearings Panel (the Panel) in support of your submission. This may explain things in your submission or provide details of the changes you want to see made to the Plan.

You do not have to provide any evidence in support of your submission if you feel that your submission already makes your views clear.

What is expert evidence?

Expert evidence is from a person who has the qualifications and knowledge to be recognised as an expert in their particular field. They must be independent and not be an advocate for any particular position. Experts are often planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, scientists or urban designers.

The Panel will require the experts to state that they agree to comply with the Environment Court's expert witness code of conduct.

The expert's qualifications, expertise and experience are to be included in an appendix to the evidence.

Kaumatua and Kuia are considered to be experts for the purposes of this hearing process.

What is Lay (non-expert) evidence?

Lay or non-expert evidence is evidence from any person who is not an expert (see the definition of expert evidence above).

When do I provide my evidence?

  • The Council needs to provide its evidence to the Panel at least 25 clear working days before the hearing; and
  • All other submitters need to provide their evidence to the Panel at least 15 clear working days before the hearing; and
  • Rebuttal evidence is due at least 5 clear working days before the hearing or as otherwise directed by the Panel.
The evidence exchange dates will be included in the notice of hearing.

What happens if I do not provide my evidence on time?

If you do not provide your evidence on time it will be up to the Panel to decide if they will allow you to present your evidence at the hearing.

If you do bring late evidence on the day of the hearing please bring at least 12 copies with you. You should give these to the hearing administrator when you arrive at the hearing.

What format must I provide my evidence in?

All evidence lodged with the Panel shall be:

Headed clearly with:

  • the name of the submitter who or on whose behalf the document is being lodged;
  • the submission number;
  • the hearing topic name and number;
  • whether they contain primary or rebuttal (reply) evidence;
  • if containing the evidence or submissions of someone other than the submitter, the name of that witness or counsel; and
  • the date;

Set out in:

  • Arial 11 point font with sufficient margins and line-spacing that the content is readily legible;
  • sequentially numbered paragraphs with sequentially numbered or lettered sub-paragraphs;

Lodged electronically in either unsecured and searchable .pdf or unsecured .doc format.

What should the content and length of my evidence be like?

The Panel has limited time to hear all of the submissions and evidence to the Unitary Plan. It is important to make sure your evidence is concise and sets out clearly the issues of concern and the changes you are seeking. Submitters are asked to:

  • provide a summary statement of your main points (this should be no more than 3 pages);
  • focus on the matters you do not agree with and the reasons why;
  • put the matters you agree with in an appendix (or otherwise separate them from the matters you do not agree with);
  • put the details of the changes you are seeking to the plan text and maps in an appendix.

Mark up the changes you want to the Plan text as underlined additions and struck-through deletions (using the font options in Word). Do not use tracked changes (the review option in Word). You can find Microsoft Word versions of the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan here.

Changes to Plan drawings (including maps) should include the relevant Plan drawing (as notified) and the version that you wish to substitute.

Any other material should be placed in appendices. Any tables, figures or diagrams shall have a number, a title and be cross-referenced to the relevant text of the evidence. .

See the our process page for examples of well-prepared evidence and legal submissions.

You might like to use our evidence template. You can find the template here, under ‘hearing schedule documents’.

If you are preparing evidence for hearings on the Rural Urban Boundary (016,017) or rezoning and precincts (080,081) please read the panel’s interim guidance on preparing for these hearings.

Should I read my evidence at the hearing?

Before the hearing the Panel will read the evidence that has been provided by the due date.

You may read your summary statement but not the evidence in full. If the Panel agrees, you may take the Panel to any key diagrams, maps or other material that would assist the Panel to understand the evidence.

You may not introduce new material that is not in your evidence unless a request to do this is granted by the Panel.