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The owners of a landmark farm near Queenstown are giving 900 hectares of their property to the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII).
Remarkables Station owners Dick and Jillian Jardine announced at a ceremony on the property this morning that the freehold land, which sits between the Remarkables Range and Lake Wakatipu, will be gifted to the trust in 2022 to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of their family’s ownership.
The property would be placed under a covenant in the coming months that would protect it from development.
The gifted land represents nearly all of the station, with the couple keeping only a small part of it to live on.
Mr Jardine said his family had owned the land for nearly a century, and had endeavoured to improve and enhance it over that time.
"Having QEII as the caretaker of this property gives us the comfort and assurance to proudly pass over this gift for all New Zealand to enjoy and appreciate.''
In a media statement, trust chairman Bruce Wills said the gift was exciting and a ‘‘huge responsibility’’.
“This is an extraordinarily generous gift to New Zealand, and one that will endure long after we are all gone.”
The statement said it was ‘‘very rare’’ for the trust to take on the ownership of a property, and its usual practice was to assist landowners to protect their properties with a covenant.
‘‘QEII considered the Jardines’ wishes very carefully, and agreed to take it on based on the incredible importance of this piece of land and the expectation that it will be economically self-sustaining as a farming operation for the foreseeable future.’’
It would protect the property’s valuable native biodiversity, and hoped to provide more opportunities for public access.
Open landscapes in the Wakatipu Basin had come under increasing pressure from subdivision and commercial development, ‘‘driven by the twin pressures of population growth and tourism’’.
It was an opportunity for the trust to demonstrate the integration of pastoral farming, conservation, public access and landscape protection on a prominent and accessible site.
The land was now leased as a working farm, and that would continue for the foreseeable future.
In 2016, the Jardines gifted their former home and the four-hectare lakefront site it sits on to the University of Otago for use as a research retreat.