What you should know about tenure review

2 June 2017

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) manages nearly 1.4 million hectares of South Island high country. Protecting these special landscapes is essential if future generations of New Zealanders are to enjoy them.

What is tenure review?

Tenure review is the process where the Crown identifies and transfers land from a Crown pastoral lease. This enables land capable of economic use to be freeholded to the leaseholder, and land with significant inherent values to be restored to full Crown ownership for protection - usually as conservation land.

Voluntary process with consultation

Tenure review is a voluntary process. The leaseholder or the Crown can withdraw from tenure review at any time. This means that if the lease changes hands, the review ceases.

In addition to the leaseholder, the Department of Conservation, iwi, Fish & Game and the general public are consulted on every single review. Outcomes require Ministerial approval.

This process has delivered important gains for conservation: public access, recreation, the establishment of high country parks, and the protection of distinctive and rare ecosystems as well as enabling farmers to fully utilise the land capable of economic use.

Conservation parks and public access

Tenure review has contributed significantly to 12 conservation parks and areas – including Hakatere Conservation Park, Hāwea Conservation Park, Pisa conservation area, Ruataniwha Conservation Park, Ahuriri Conservation Park and The Remarkables conservation area.

Some of the largest former leases that have designated land to conservation include Mesopotamia in Canterbury and Muzzle Station in Marlborough.  The review of Mesopotamia saw over 20,000 hectares designated to conservation, creating a new walking trail adjoining the Hakatere Conservation Park. Almost 11,000 hectares of land from the Muzzle Station pastoral lease in the Kaikoura Ranges was designated as a conservation area.

The government has taken 119 pastoral leases through tenure review on behalf of the Commissioner of Crown Lands. This covers about 620,000 hectares. Of that, almost 300,000 hectares has been retained by the Crown with the majority of that land given to conservation purposes.

You can search through tenure review information for any pastoral lease on our website.

About pastoral leases

Pastoral leases are in place to allow livestock farming on the land.

These leases were created in the 1940s and 1950s under the Land Act and run for 33 years – with a right to be continually renewed. However, many families already had arrangements with the government to farm before that.

Tenure review, formalised into law in 1998, allows the Crown to identify and release the land from a pastoral lease.

The freehold land has often been farmed for generations, with those families paying for improvements to the land - buildings, infrastructure and fencing – as well as carrying out pest control.

Find out more about Crown pastoral land and the tenure review process.

As a responsible landowner, LINZ is also involved in collaborative projects with local and regional authorities and community groups to protect rivers, lakes and native landscapes from pests.

Find out more about our biosecurity programme.

Media enquiries

Email: media@linz.govt.nz or phone: 027 566 5251