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American television presenter Matt Lauer says his family is looking forward to being part of the Wanaka community after confirming he and his wife were behind the purchase of Hunter Valley Station.
Mr Lauer and his wife Annette issued a statement yesterday through Queenstown lawyer Graeme Todd saying they were looking forward to making a home in the Upper Clutha and to being good stewards of Hunter Valley Station.
"Annette and I have been coming to New Zealand for several years, and every time we visit, we feel lucky to be in a place of such endless beauty, inspiration and adventure," Mr Lauer said in the statement.
The couple’s purchase of the 6468ha pastoral lease from Taff and Penny Cochrane has attracted criticism because of what some groups say is a lack of guaranteed access through the station into the Hawea Conservation Park and into the Hunter Valley itself.
In its decision to grant the sale lease, the Overseas Investment Office said there was willingness from Mr Lauer to enable public access to several important sites in or near the station.
Various groups were involved in discussions about access through the station before the purchase was finalised, including the Federated Mountain Clubs, Otago Fish and Game and the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust.
Those groups have been vocal in their disappointment about those access provisions, which they say are not an improvement on what was already in place.
Mr Todd said if those groups had an issue with any of the conditions set by the OIO they were welcome to contact him directly but his client would not be having that discussion in the media. If they felt the provisions were not being followed they could also go directly to the OIO with their concerns, Mr Todd said.
"He has volunteered these conditions. These are not conditions which have been imposed and those access groups have been aware of that for at least 18 months."
Hunter Valley was not the only access point to the Hawea Conservation Park and access through to it would be allowed when it did not disrupt farming activities.
Mr Lauer was concerned about the manner in which he and his wife had been represented in the media, as he wanted to be part of the community and a good custodian of the land, Mr Todd said.
The Commissioner of Crown Lands has not yet approved the transferring of the lease from the Cochranes to the Lauers.