Range of views collated on tenure review

Whenever Mackenzie Country farmers get together, tenure review is often the subject of discussion. Photo: Chris Tobin
Whenever Mackenzie Country farmers get together, tenure review is often the subject of discussion. Photo: Chris Tobin
The High Country Accord, a trust established to promote the rights of pastoral leaseholders, is opposing the Government's decision to end tenure review saying it is a bad one.

''It was made with no effective consultation with lessees, and the reasons justifying the decision lack merit,'' trust chairman Philip Todhunter, of Lake Heron Station, said in its submission on the Government's discussion document ''Enduring stewardship of Crown pastoral land''.

If the Crown was to remain the lessor of pastoral leases, it had to establish a new relationship with lessees with each party respecting the contract between them, Mr Todhunter said.

''The future relationship between the Crown and lessees will require the Crown to stop periodically abusing its position of dominance, and instead recognise the positive contribution made by high country farmers and their families to the environment, their local communities and the national economy.''

Mr Todhunter said there were many themes in the discussion document on which common ground could be established with a constructive engagement by Minister of Conservation and Land Information Eugenie Sage.

''However, the present lack of detail as to implementation means the accord reserves its final position on many matters.

The accord agreed with officials' advice there were many instances where tenure review would continue to be the best mechanism to achieve the Government's objectives of safeguarding biodiversity, landscape and cultural values.

''The majority of the 127 completed and implemented tenure reviews have achieved good outcomes for all concerned.

''More than 300,000ha have passed to the conservation estate and the public now has access to vast, sometimes previously inaccessible, areas. At the same time, substantial economic benefits have flowed to New Zealand from previously leased land being freed for more flexible land uses, albeit still regulated by a broad framework of existing legislation.''

Federated Farmers High Country said in its submission it supported all matters detailed in the High Country Accord submission.

''We believe that to attain an accurate indication of opinion, more detail needs to be taken into account.

''We also question the credibility of the consultation when a major outcome, the cessation of tenure review, is determined without consultation.''

The NZ Merino Co chief operating officer, Peter Floris, expressed concerns for the merino industry and said many of its fine wool suppliers were on pastoral leases such as Mt Nicholas and Lake Heron.

''These are iconic inter-generational properties that are key suppliers. It is critical that those suppliers on pastoral leases have security of tenure and the flexibility to continue to operate their properties as they do now.''

Environment Canterbury (ECan) chief executive Bill Bayfield said in a letter of support to ending tenure review it was ''timely to update legislative tools to support the transition arising from ending tenure review''.

''The environment is under pressure and economic conditions and community concerns have changed since regulations were adopted.''

He said ECan along with Land Information NZ (Linz) and three other agencies were working through the Mackenzie Basin Agency Alignment programme to produce a shared digital set of maps with overlays displaying land use, tenure, landscape and ecological values.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu said to date it had been given limited opportunity to access, identify and express its values on Crown pastoral lease land.

''Te Runanga acknowledges that whilst flawed, the tenure review process did provide an opportunity for mana whenua to conduct cultural values assessments.

''Any alternative mechanism that replaces tenure review must enable Ngai Tahu with the ability to access sites of significance and to identify values to inform and guide future land management.''

The Environment and Conservation Organisation of NZ, a national alliance of 49 conservation/environment groups supported the end of tenure review.

''We believe there have been perverse outcomes for the Crown in relation to the massive transfer of market values to leaseholders who have gained freehold title, often without constraints on what can be done.''

The Conservation Authority, a conservation advisory body appointed by the Minister of Conservation supported the end of tenure review.

''While the authority recognises areas of protected land has increased, this has often occurred with the loss of the most threatened indigenous ecosystems in the high country such as valley floor wetlands, tussocklands, shrublands and lake margins.''

Linz received 3248 submissions with 2739 submitters using forms provided by Forest & Bird and Greenpeace NZ.

Linz will now consider the range of views to formulate its advice to the Government on possible changes to Crown pastoral land legislation.

This will be given to the minister, Eugenie Sage, to report to the Government.

-By Chris Tobin

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