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Tenure Review Scaremongering

Interest groups are deliberately confusing tenure review with access to land and landscape issues says John Aspinall, National Board Member, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

Mr Aspinall was responding to comments made after the Government announced the first negotiated settlement of the land tenure review process.

“Tenure review is a negotiation process involving exchange of property rights between pastoral lessees and the Government. The farmer ends up with freehold title to farming land and the Crown gains full control of areas with outstanding landscapes, indigenous flora and fauna and recreational opportunities. Some parties object to the value of land freeholded by farmers, but fail to recognise that the land regained by the Crown is also of high value and offers significant recreation and tourism opportunities. In recent years lessees have already diversified their businesses into these activities in addition to traditional farming. Much of those diversification opportunities may now pass to the Crown.

“The Department of Conservation (DOC) has the potential to gain up to a million hectares of land through the tenure review process, most of which will be open to the public. As part of the tenure review process, access can be negotiated across the freehold land to the public land and marginal strips are laid off along waterways. The gains for public access both onto new DOC land and across freehold land are huge.

“Land Access Ministerial Reference Group Chair John Acland has expressed some concern that the subdivision of newly freeholded land will alter the landscape and may block access to some waterways. Mr Acland is wrong. For there to be no access after freeholding there never was public access as of right to the waterway under leasehold title. If access is important it will be negotiated during tenure review. If a successful freeholder wishes to subdivide in the future this can only be done with the consent of the District Council. District Councils have the opportunity to require access as a condition of subdivision consent.

“Subdivision is allowed where appropriate and restricted where not. Furthermore the Resource Management Act allows controls to be placed on the positioning of buildings to protect the landscape. This is reasonable to most people but a few selfish elite wish to stop any further growth and development in the high country.

“It appears some either don't understand the process or are attempting to further their own objectives by discrediting the tenure review process. The present legislation enables a negotiated process which can give a fair return to both farmers and the Government, with huge gains for both the conservation and recreation lobby groups” concluded Mr Aspinall.

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