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Source: New Zealand Government

Law changes to end tenure review and provide for better management of Crown pastoral lands in the South Island high country were considered by Parliament this evening with the first reading of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill says Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage.

“Publicly owned Crown pastoral lands comprise 1.2 million hectares of land in the South Island and represent a unique part of New Zealand’s landscapes and about 5% of New Zealand’s land area.

“In February 2019 the Government decided to end tenure review. Over the last 20 years tenure review has resulted in some land being protected as conservation land but also over 350,000 ha, being privatised through freeholding, leading to it being more intensively farmed or subdivided and developed.

“The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill ends tenure review. It aims to ensure the ecological, landscape, cultural, heritage and scientific values of Crown owned pastoral land are maintained or improved, while at the same time providing for ongoing pastoral farming.

“This is a milestone for the sustainable management of the South Island high country. The Bill provides the framework for pastoral leaseholders to continue to farm while safeguarding everything that is unique and precious about this land and the indigenous species that make it their home,” said Eugenie Sage.

The changes include:

  • ending the tenure review process, which has resulted in former Crown pastoral land being freeholded and subject to more intensive farming and subdivision development.
  • moving towards an outcomes-based approach to encourage pastoral farming that is sustainable, and decision making that better recognises impacts on inherent values.
  • providing a clearer, more transparent, statutory decision-making process, with stronger accountability mechanisms and more opportunity for public input on how Crown pastoral lands should be managed.
  • supporting strong and enduring Crown-Māori relationships and recognising the relationship of tangata whenua with their ancestral lands.

“The Bill reflects input from over 3000 submitters to the discussion document Enduring Stewardship of Crown Pastoral Land, which was released for public consultation in early 2019, and subsequent meetings and discussions undertaken with key stakeholders and iwi.

“The feedback and continued dialogue from this engagement has helped shape the final Bill.

“I appreciate the time and commitment of the many individuals and organisations who have contributed to this Bill. While I am confident we have a workable and enduring framework, I encourage anyone interested to submit to the Select Committee process.    

The Bill does not change the system of setting rentals on pastoral leases,” said Eugenie Sage.

More information about the Bill can be found on Parliament’s website. The Bill will be considered by the Environment Select Committee with submissions closing later in 2020, after the General Election.