Sarah Ongley

Environmental and Local Government Law

P: 06 769 9400 (wk) | 027 446 7917 (mobile)


Areas of Practice

  • Submissions and advocacy on district and regional plans.
  • Tiriti o Waitangi and Maori issues associated with the RMA.
  • Resource consent applications (including subdivisions) and submissions supporting or opposing applications.
  • Submissions/advice on national policy documents/proposals for legislation in the environmental field.
  • Freshwater including water quality and water quantity (allocation).
  • Conservation Act including concessions.
  • Local Government: bylaws, information requests, liquor licensing, other regulatory matters.
  • Ombudsman Act processes.
  • Marine and coastal (including relating to the exclusive economic zone).
  • Defending/taking enforcement action in the Environment Court.
  • Reverse sensitivity issues/agreements (where developments may affect the continued operation of your business).

Professional Background

  • Barrister at Bank Chambers (since 2015)
  • Regional Solicitor for the Department of Conservation – Tongariro/Whanganui/Taranaki Conservancy (2008 – 2012)
  • Senior Legal Counsel, Mercury Energy (2006 – 2008)
  • Manager Legal/Senior Solicitor, Auckland City Council Environmental group (2004 – 2006)
  • Barrister, Environmental Law Chambers (2003 – 2004)
  • Senior Solicitor, Ministry for the Environment (1999 – 2003)
  • Private practice in large Wellington law firms – Chapman Tripp and Phillips Fox (1993 – 1998)
  • Admitted: 1993

Related Experience

Sarah is an accredited RMA hearings commissioner and is a Ministerial-appointed Freshwater Commissioner (under the Office of the Chief Freshwater Commissioner).

Sarah is a Trustee of the Native Forest Restoration Trust, a trust that identifies indigenous habitats that are under threat and acquires land to protect it in perpetuity.  She is a member of the NZ Bar Association and the Resource Management Law Association, of which she is the Taranaki Branch’s past president.


Sarah travels regularly to other regions for her work. She has developed relationships with consultants throughout the North and South Islands, and can assist when clients wish to obtain environmental or scientific expertise.