Continued or enhanced public access is a factor for assessing the benefit of overseas investments in sensitive land under section 17(1)(c) of the Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2021.
Demonstrating a benefit
To demonstrate a benefit, an applicant must show that the overseas investment is likely to result in public access being granted across the land or the features giving rise to the land’s sensitivity. The access can be by the public generally or any section of the public.
Examples of public access that might be provided include:
- access for recreational purposes
- access for the purposes of undertaking stewardship of, or exercising kaitiakitanga in relation to, historic heritage or the natural environment.
The public access must be either:
- additional to any access that already exists, or
- a continuation of existing access only if that access is likely to be lost without the investment.
Public access is the right of members of the public, or any section of the public, to gain access to the New Zealand outdoors. It includes access by any means, including on foot, by bicycle, by horse or by vehicle.
Public access to the following areas may be particularly relevant:
- foreshore, lakes and rivers
- conservation areas
- areas of historic heritage
- areas of scenic or recreational value
- areas containing sports fish and game
- areas adjoining public walking, biking or horse-riding trails, or 4-wheel drive roads.
See section 11 of the Walking Access Act 2008, which provides an indication of some considerations that may be relevant.
Purpose of access
Public access may be for a variety of purposes, including recreational purposes or for undertaking stewardship of, or exercising kaitiakitanga in relation to, historic heritage or the natural environment.
Kaitiakitanga means the exercise of guardianship by the tangata whenua of an area in accordance with tikanga Māori in relation to natural and physical resources, and includes the ethic of stewardship.
Generally, the benefit associated with enduring mechanisms such as a walkway easement will be given greater weight than more temporary or informal measures.
A commitment to implement specific mechanisms will be given greater weight than an agreement to consult with the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.
Making a claim
To claim continued or enhanced public access as a benefit, an applicant should provide the following information:
- Description: A description of the proposed public access over the relevant land, including the areas to which access will be permitted, the type of access (for example, walking, cycling or vehicle), the purposes for which access will be permitted, and any conditions or limitations on access (for example, if access will only be available during certain hours or parts of the year). Maps showing proposed access routes should be provided where relevant.
- Current public access: Details of any existing public access arrangements in relation to the relevant land.
- Method: How the overseas investment will result in continued or enhanced public access over the relevant land (for example, creating a walkway easement, constructing defined trails, installing markers identifying trails or installing signs on the relevant land publicising the available access).
- Benefit to New Zealand: How the access will benefit the public or a group of the public. Include information about demand for access in the area (such as previous requests for access), likely frequency of use, the amenity value of any tracks or roads and any notable features the public would have access to.
- Expenditure: The capital expenditure (if any) required.
- Timeframe: When the public access is likely to become available.
- Uncertainties: Anything that may prevent the provision of public access (for example, consents and approvals).
Conditions of consent
An applicant’s claims under this factor are generally the subject of an associated condition of consent and post-consent monitoring by the Overseas Investment Office.
Where the Overseas Investment Office considers that public access is relevant to an application, we may consult the New Zealand Walking Access Commission. The outcome of this consultation will be discussed with the applicant where relevant, including any potential conditions of consent.