Setareh Stienstra


Setareh is an experienced litigator. Her areas of practice are:

  • Public and administrative law (with a sub-specialisation in environmental, planning and local government law)
  • Property
  • Civil litigation
  • Regulatory crime

Setareh appears in various courts and tribunals regularly across New Zealand. She is a skilled trial and appellate advocate. She has represented public sector agencies, corporate clients, iwi and hapu trusts, and private individuals.  She has been involved in a number precedent setting cases in the areas of resource management and local government.

Setareh began her legal career in 1999 as a Legal and Policy Adviser at Infrastructure Auckland, a statutory body. Prior to joining the independent bar in 2014 she was a senior practitioner at two leading national law firms, Dentons Kensington Swan and Simpson Grierson.

Setareh enjoys working with the legal profession’s voluntary bodies. In 2019 she was elected to the Council of the New Zealand Bar Association (NZBA) and again in 2020.  She was appointed the Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and continues in that role as a co-chair now. She is also a member of the Te Ao Māori Committee of the NZBA, a group seeking to recognise the important role of tikanga and its incorporation into the way in which the NZBA works and represents members’ interests. Setareh is also an elected member of the Executive of the New Zealand Law Society Property Law Section.  In 2020 she was appointed to the ADLS Civil Litigation Committee.  She has been an appointed Committee member of the ADLS Environment and Local Government Committee since 2008.


LLB, BA (Anthropology and Economics), University of Auckland, 2000
LLM (Hons, 1st), University of Auckland/Frei Univeritat Berlin, 2003
Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, 2002


Regular contributor to the Resource Management Journal
Lexis Nexis Resource Management Bulletin 10(8) Dec 2013: 88-91; 10(2) Apr 2013: 25-28
Butterworths Resource Management Bulletin 5(13) Aug 2004: 152-153
Presenter, NZLS Seminar on Regulatory Roadblocks (March 2018)
Regular case law updates for consultants, local authorities and private clients
Lexis Nexis: Prosecutions for Local Authorities (2009)
Lexis Nexis: Investigative skills (2008)
Lexis Nexis: Departmental Prosecutions (2007)
Conferenz: Transport Summit, Discussions on PPPs (2008/2009/2012)

Memberships and appointments

Auckland Women Lawyers Association, Member (2008-), Committee Member (2020-)
NZLS Property Law Section Executive (2020-)
Property Law Section Law Reform Panel (2019-)
New Zealand Bar Association (NZBA), Member (2014-)
NZBA Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Member (2017-), Chair (2019-2020), Co-chair (2021-)
Trustee/Director Waitakere City Stadium Trust (The Arena) (2014-)
Southern Cross Chambers, Member (2014-2021)
Auckland District Law Society Inc (ADLS), Member
ADLS Environment and Resource Management Committee, Member (2009-2015), (2018-)
ADLS Civil Litigation Committee
Resource Management Law Association (RMLA), Member (2003-present)
Former Joint Convener, Climate Change Interest Group, RMLA
Current Knowledge Hub Co-Leader, Infrastructure Interest Group

Court of Appeal

  • Ortmann v United States of America [2018] NZCA 233; BC201860923
    (Extradition) (On appeal to the Supreme Court)
  • Beaumont Trading Co Ltd v Auckland Council [2016] NZCA 223
    (Rates and Development Contributions)

High Court

  • Maehl v Lenihan [2019] NZHC 1955
    (Appeal from Environment Court and Procedural Issues)
  • Kawau Island Action Inc Society v Auckland Council and Duke [2018] NZHC 3306; BC201861839
    (Judicial Review)
  • Lenihan v Maehl and Charlesworth [2018] NZHC 2989; BC201861648
  • Lenihan v Maehl [2018] NZHC 3331; BC201861842
    (costs and procedure of appeals)
  • Hunter v Auckland Council and Burley [2018] NZHC 2975; BC201861643
    (Judicial Review) 
  • Maehl v Auckland Council [2017] NZHC 1902; BC201761682
    (Judicial Review)
  • Beaumont Trading Co Ltd v Auckland Council [2015] NZRMA 273; [2015] 2 NZLR 656; [2014] NZHC 2954; BC201464307
    (Judicial Review)
  • Fairley v Auckland Council (formerly North Shore City Council) [2012] NZHC 2987
    (Appeal – Transport Law)

Environment Court and District Court

  • Maehl v Lenihan [2019] NZEnvC 108
    (Application for Enforcement Orders)
  • Strategic Property Advocacy Network v Auckland Council [2019] NZENVC 134; BC201962507
    (Plan Change Appeal) 
  • Kawau Island Action Inc Society v Auckland Council and Duke [2018] NZEnvC 200
    (Application for Enforcement Order) 
  • Duke v Auckland Council [2017] NZEnvC 195
    (Commencement Orders)
  • Portage Licensing Trust v Court [2014] NZARLA PH 872
    (Licensing Appeal)
  • National Trading Co of New Zealand Ltd v Auckland Council (formerly the Waitakere City Council) [2011] NZEnvC 128, May 17, 2011, Judge CJ Thompson, KA Edmonds & WR Howie
    (Plan Change Appeal)
  • Protect Piha Heritage Society Inc v Waitakere City Council and Auckland Regional Council, Environment Court, A015/09
  • Waitakere City Council v Brooky BC200961642, District Court
    (Building Act Prosecution)
  • Waitakere City Council v Sayed Akbar Hosaini BC200961017, District Court
    (Building Act Prosecution)
  • Waitakere City Council v Hobsonville Residential Developments Ltd & Anor DC Auckland CRI-2007-090-005106, 11 February 2008
    District Court
    (Heritage and Environment Prosecution)
  • Ritchies Transport Holdings Ltd v Waitakere City Council A023/08, Environment Court
    (Consent Appeal)
  • Sheehan v Valley Wine Merchants Ltd Liquor Licensing Authority
    Decision No PH79/2020; PH080/2010, PH81/2010