New legislation to modernise the management of 1.2 million hectares of Crown pastoral land primarily in the South Island high country was passed in Parliament today.
Land Information Minister Damien O’Connor said the Crown Pastoral Land Reform (CPLR) Bill has passed its third reading.
“These spectacular South Island properties are special places for all New Zealanders. This Bill strikes a balance between recognising the place of pastoral farming as a legitimate use of the land, while protecting the importance of the unique values of our high country to New Zealand,” Damien O’Connor said.
“The Government’s view has been that while on-going sustainable pastoral farming is the best way for this land to be managed, the Act needed to be modernised to achieve this.
“The CPLR Bill reaffirms the leaseholders’ rights as pastoral farmers while amending the existing regulatory system to manage these leases in a way that balances the ecological, landscape, cultural, heritage and scientific values inherent to the land. This includes clarifying day-to-day farming practices, while improving consenting of activity that might impact those inherent values of the High Country, and addressing public expectations around access to the Back Country.
“It will also close the tenure review process, which commenced in 1998 and had reached a point where the process is costly and uncertain for both applicants and the Crown. I believe the process had run its course.”
Tenure review is a voluntary process that gives pastoral lessees an opportunity to buy land capable of economic use from the Crown, while land with high conservation values is protected and restored to full Crown ownership as conservation land.
The other changes in the Bill will commence six months later as they require new regulations and standards to be developed.
Damien O’Connor said Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) will remain responsible for administering Crown pastoral land and overseeing the small number of tenure reviews where a substantive proposal has been put or is being implemented.
“LINZ will continue to work alongside leaseholders, relevant iwi and both the High Country Accord and High Country Advisory Group over the coming months to help shape the regulations and standards required to implement the Bill to ensure they are robust and workable. The public will also be invited to have their say,” Damien O’Connor said.
“I acknowledge the stewardship of the many lessees who follow best practice to minimise the impact on the environment and manage pests and weeds. In many cases, that’s been an intergenerational effort.
“I would like to thank the Environment Select Committee, and everyone who made submissions on the original Bill in helping us get to this point.”
To view the latest version of the Bill, or for more information, visit the Parliament website.