Eugenie Sage: Why we’re ending tenure review

Opinion 27/02/2019
South Island High Country. Photo: Getty.

By Eugenie Sage, Minister for Land Information.

“This Government will stop the privatisation of iconic landscapes that belong to New Zealanders, and secure them for future generations.”

OPINION: That was my commitment to New Zealand when I announced in February that we would be changing the law to end tenure review. It’s a commitment backed by my Cabinet colleagues and sends a clear message about how seriously we take the protection and long term future of Crown pastoral land across the South Island high country.

This decision provides certainty for everyone involved on the new direction we are taking with managing Crown pastoral land. 

Tenure review is a voluntary process where Crown pastoral land can be sold to a leaseholder and areas with high ecological and recreational value can be returned to full Crown ownership as conservation land.

I want to work with leaseholders to ensure nearly 5% of New Zealand’s total land area is better managed. The high country is vast not only in size, but also in its rich variety – of landscapes, the homes it provides for native plants and wildlife, including threatened species like the kāki/black stilt and robust grasshopper, and the different ways it is farmed and used.

Our high country and the drylands of the eastern South Island have a better future than becoming a version of the Canterbury plains – a patchwork of closely subdivided and intensively farmed paddocks.

To do that tenure review has to go. This freeholding and privatisation policy has helped create conservation parks but it’s also led to massive land use change in the Mackenzie Basin and elsewhere, with subdivision, dairying and intensive agricultural development on newly freeholded land. It has not always provided a fair financial return to the Crown and the public.

By ending tenure review the Government is committing to the ongoing Crown ownership and stewardship of some of our most important landscapes. We are committing to the Crown working in partnership with those who live and work on the land, who have a passion for these drylands and a stake in their future, and to more public accountability.

That’s why we’re consulting on how the Crown can better manage the 1.2 million hectares of New Zealand which are in Crown pastoral lease.

The South Island high country is close to many New Zealanders’ hearts. What we value needs to be secured for the long term.  You can read the discussion document and make a submission here

Eugenie Sage is the Minister for Land Information.