High Country Matters, June 2019

12 June 2019

Tēnā koutou and nau mai, haere mai to the first edition of this quarterly newsletter from Land Information New Zealand.

Jerome Sheppard
Deputy Chief Executive, Crown Property

High Country Matters will provide updates on the work we’re doing to improve our stewardship of Crown pastoral land both on an operational level and at the regulatory level. We’ll also be including stories on a range of projects and from different people and organisations.

We saw from the submissions to the recent consultation on enduring stewardship of Crown pastoral land just how much interest and passion there is for this incredibly special land. The feedback we received was considered, detailed, evocative and informative. We heard a range of views from people with deep connections to the land. I’d like to thank everyone who made a submission. We have a link to the summary of the submissions later in this newsletter.

It was a real pleasure to meet so many people through the consultation process and to hear directly your thoughts on the management of Crown pastoral land. With so many people clearly interested in our work we intend to hold annual meetings to encourage these direct conversations. Our next one will be in early 2020.

I know many of you appreciated meeting the Craig Harris, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, and Eugenie Sage, the Minister of Land Information. Through this newsletter I want to introduce you to more of our staff, with a focus on the team that manages Crown pastoral land for LINZ.

Also in this edition I’m pleased to tell you about Budget 2019 funding of $3.1 million over four years to increase our management capability and capacity of Crown pastoral land.

Our journey at LINZ to improve our management of Crown pastoral land is already underway, and we’ve got an article on some changes that will be happening in the inspection space for leaseholders. We’ve also included stories on wider projects across the high country that we’re part of including the Mackenzie Basin Alignment Project.

I hope you find this content of interest. High Country Matters is a new venture for us so please send through suggestions for items you think we should be covering. You can reply to this email address to do so. Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone else who may be interested, anyone can subscribe to it. You can unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of the page.

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei,

Jerome Sheppard – Deputy Chief Executive, Crown Property

Summary of submissions on Crown pastoral land published

Land Information New Zealand has published the summary of submissions following consultation on improving the Crown’s management of its pastoral land in the South Island high county.

Submissions on enduring stewardship of Crown pastoral land

In total 3,248 individuals and organisations had their say on the Government’s proposals for enduring stewardship of Crown pastoral land, following an eight-week public consultation process.

“We’ve heard from Crown pastoral leaseholders, their families and employees, iwi, councils, environment and recreation advocacy groups, industry and the public,” says Jamie Kerr, Deputy Chief Executive Policy and Overseas Investment Office.

“Consistent across all these submissions is a focus on the importance of this land and its iconic environmental, cultural and economic values.”

LINZ received submissions from 32 organisations, and 3,216 individuals; 2,739 of which made use of form submissions provided by Forest & Bird and Greenpeace New Zealand. Approximately 100 submitters also endorsed the submission from the High Country Accord.

“LINZ would like to thank those groups such as the High Country Accord, Forest & Bird, Federated Farmers, and Greenpeace New Zealand who helped to coordinate submissions and ensure that affected and interested parties have been engaged in the process” adds Mr Kerr.

“We appreciate the number of people who attended our consultation meetings, particularly leaseholders who travelled long distances to hear directly about the proposals.

“We would also like to acknowledge Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for engaging with us throughout this process and helping us to understand what a taonga the high country is to Māori.”

A number of overarching themes came through the feedback, such as the importance of Crown pastoral land, the importance of relationships, the role of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, property rights and the pastoral lease contract, and public involvement in the system.

There was broad support for the proposals outlined in the discussion document ‘Enduring stewardship of Crown pastoral land’. Details of the feedback on all seven proposals is contained in the summary of submissions.

“The consultation has started some really productive conversations with a range of people, that will not only inform legislative change, but LINZ’s operational practices too,” concludes Mr Kerr.

LINZ is carefully considering the full range of views put forward during consultation to inform its advice to Government on potential changes to the Crown pastoral land regulatory system and governing legislation.

That advice will be provided to Land Information Minister, Eugenie Sage, to report back to the Government on the results of the consultation process.

Funding for increased inspections of Crown pastoral land

Through Budget 2019 $3.1 million over four years has been set aside to support improvements to the management of Crown pastoral land.

“This funding will increase our land management capability and capacity at a critical time for Crown pastoral land,” says Jerome Sheppard, Crown Property Deputy Chief Executive.

The additional resources will mean LINZ can inspect every Crown pastoral lease once every two years. From July 2019 LINZ staff will lead inspections instead of service providers.

“This will mean improvements to how we monitor and enforce compliance with discretionary consents.”

“I hope it will also mean that we can work more collaboratively with leaseholders as we get a better understanding of their long-term plans and how we can achieve sustainable environmental and economic outcomes.”

Message from the Commissioner of Crown Lands

Tēnā koutou,

Craig Harris
Commissioner of Crown Lands

The role of Commissioner of Crown Lands (CCL) is an historic one for New Zealand, but whilst it may have been around for many years what the Commissioner actually does remains a mystery to many people. I hope to use this newsletter to update you on the work that I’m doing and tell you more about myself and the role of the CCL.

There has been a lot of discussion through the consultation on enduring stewardship of Crown pastoral land about the Commissioner’s role. As many of you know, the Commissioner is an independent statutory officer responsible for Crown land. This includes being the landlord for Crown pastoral and other lessees, and consenting to activities on Crown pastoral land such as scrub clearing, felling or planting trees and sowing seed.

The role dates back to the late 1840s when William Gisborne was appointed for the Auckland region. Originally each district had its own CCL, who reported to the Land Settlement Board. Since 1990 there has been one CCL discharging both the functions of the Board and Commissioners under the Land Act.  

I’ve been in this role for just over two years, and before that was privileged enough to work with the three previous Commissioners. I’ve been at Land Information New Zealand for more than 20 years, starting out as a property officer in the Department of Survey and Land Information in 1995 as LINZ was known back then.

Over that time I’ve had the opportunity to work on an incredibly diverse range of Crown property issues. My first role was managing the clean-up of historic contaminated sites. Highlights have been working with iwi to craft the Whanganui and Waikato River Treaty settlements, ensuring activities under the Public Works Act reflect both the public good and property rights, and creating new systems for managing coastal reclaimed land. I’ve also had the opportunity to serve as private secretary to John Tamihere and Pete Hodgson when they were Ministers for Land Information. 

A key highlight was scoring with my first touch of the ball in my debut in the annual rugby game between LINZ and Treasury. This year will be my 21st and probably final game (though the round-ball code remains my first calling).

My first involvement with Crown pastoral land came in 1998, when I helped David Gullen develop the standards and processes to implement the new Crown Pastoral Land Act. I became Deputy Commissioner in 2012 .

Mostly recently I have been supporting LINZ with the work to bring about regulatory reform to how the Crown manages its pastoral lease land across the high country. As part of this work I really enjoyed meeting so many people passionate about the land and the outcomes we want to achieve.

I was deeply moved by the attachment to the land of our leaseholders and their commitment to stewarding this land in perpetuity. The stories you told me, spanning many generations, are a rich tale of the history of the land itself. I want to make sure we build on the foundations of these histories to recognise your attachment to the land whilst balancing that with the role of the Crown.

This is a pivotal point for the Crown, with the biggest changes to the management of its pastoral land in more than two decades. I’m pleased we have so much active interest and a strong desire by those closest to the land to work with the Crown on this process.

Nāku noa, nā

Craig Harris – Commissioner of Crown Lands

LINZ Portfolio Managers visit Erewhon Station

As part of the revamp of the pastoral lease inspection regime, on Friday 5 April LINZ’s Pastoral Portfolio Managers, along with some other staff members, visited Erewhon Station to meet with the lessees, Colin and Erin Drummond.

Erewhon Station is over 13,000 ha and 100km inland from Ashburton, in the headwaters of the Rangitata River. They have four major sources of income from the farm - high quality merino wool, Hereford calves, Clydesdale horses and tourism activities.

View across Erewhon Homestead

The word Erewhon is an anagram of nowhere and has its origins as the name of Samuel Butler’s famous 19th century novel written when he farmed nearby Mesopotamia Station. 

The aim of the visit was to explore ways to build more direct relationships with lessees and to further enhance the Portfolio Managers’ knowledge of high country farming.

Of particular interest were insights gained around how the Drummonds balance their traditional farming activities with their tourism operation. Another highlight was learning how proactive they are in monitoring the environmental effects of their operations and their deep commitment to the health of the environment that they are custodians of.

They urged the team to think holistically about how LINZ can partner with lessees to better manage the High Country and to extend the horizons of our thinking beyond the short term to 20, 50 and even 100 years.

The insights from the day are being used to support changes to the pastoral lease inspection regime. In particular, they will be used in the development of new tools, resources and training for the LINZ Pastoral team as they prepare to carry out all inspections on Crown pastoral leases without third party service providers

Merinos grazing amongst the snow tussocks with Cloudy Peak Range in the distance (Photography by Shawnee Westerman)

High Country Advisory Group

The High Country Advisory Group met for the fourth time last month after coming together in August 2018. The ten-member group was set up by LINZ to provide advice and insights from a diverse range of organisations and perspectives.

Members of the High Country Advisory Group

Members include:

Colin Drummond
Leaseholder of Erewhon Station
Edward Ellison
Active in Ngāi Tahu and rūnanga governance and Chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority
Jan Finlayson
President of Federated Mountain Clubs
James Guild
Current Chair of the QEII National Trust and Chair of the Molesworth Steering Committee
Mike Harding
Member of the Ministry for the Environment Biodiversity Collaborative Group
Geoff Holgate
Consultant ecologist contracted to Walking Access Commission
Di Lucas
Rural landscape planner and past chair of the Nature Heritage Fund
Jen Miller
Forest & Bird and Ministry for the Environment Biodiversity Collaborative Group
Jonathan Wallis
Chair of the High Country Accord and leaseholder of Minaret Station
Madeleine Wright
Environmental Defence Society

The Group’s focus for 2019 is on the proposed changes to legislation that governs how Crown pastoral land is regulated. At its recent meeting in May, the Group discussed the summary of submissions on the discussion document Enduring Stewardship of Crown Pastoral Land, providing feedback on initial policy proposals. They also had time to put their views to the Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage.

Deputy Chief Executive of Crown Property for LINZ, Jerome Sheppard, says the group is providing valuable insights:

“We really appreciate the opportunity to have such a diverse range of views and wealth of experience in one room. We find it incredibly valuable to be able to have honest and robust policy discussions with the Group throughout the policy development stage.

“We also see ongoing value in the Group’s advice on our operational changes, as well as their views on our role in the High Country outside of pastoral land, for example on issues like biosecurity and responsible camping.”

Meet the team

LINZ Land & Property pastoral team is based in Christchurch. Responsible for all things South Island including pastoral leases. The team is made up of eight portfolio managers, two senior portfolio managers, a graduate portfolio manager and team leader April Hussey.

Each Portfolio Manager has a group of properties they look after. Their day to day work ranges from visiting pastoral lease properties, to responding to lessee questions, analysing applications for discretionary consents and ensuring that important processes such as lease renewal and rent reviews run smoothly and to their deadlines. They are also the team responsible for the tenure review process, including implementation.

In addition to all of this, some members of the team are also responsible for the management of other Crown land throughout the South Island, such as lakebed and riverbed, and they contribute to large Crown land projects throughout the South. Needless to say, they're a team that’s always on the go!

The team comes together from many different walks of life and has qualifications and experience in a variety of fields including science, survey, farming, law and valuation. This means that they bring a broad range of knowledge, perspectives and solutions to every situation.

The team is currently preparing to take on inspections of the leases, bringing these in house rather than using service providers. Manager April Hussey says: “we’re looking forward to working with the leaseholders and developing stronger relationships and a greater all-round understanding of each pastoral lease and the people caring for the land.”

Meet April Hussey

Photograph of April Hussey with a foal

Each edition of High Country Matters we’ll be focussing on a different member of the team. The first is Team Manager April Hussey.

April has been the Acting Manager of the Pastoral team since February 2019. She started with LINZ as a Portfolio Manager in 2014, becoming a Senior Portfolio Manager in 2017.

April is a born and bred Cantabrian with a background in law and science. A deep interest in the land led to her joining LINZ. This interest was sparked by the many school holidays she spent on her grandparents’ farm on the West Coast.

Five years into the job and April says she loves the variety of her role: “No two days are the same and every issue we come across can be quite unique – we’re thinking on our feet and developing new solutions all the time, which is what makes working as a part of this team such an adventure.”

Prior to beginning work in the Acting Manager role, April worked on a number of large Crown land projects centred on responsible camping and braided rivers. She is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to lead the team into its new and improved way of working and providing everyday support to Portfolio Managers, so that they can focus on supporting lessees.

April is kept busy outside of work by her love of reading and crafts, her work as a volunteer literacy and numeracy tutor and her disobedient dachshund.

You can contact your Portfolio Manager, April or the pastoral team at any time using their email addresses or on pastoral&tenurereview@linz.govt.nz.

Photograph of Lake Tekapo

Working together to achieve shared outcomes

A major project working to deliver better outcomes for the high country is the Mackenzie Basin Agency Alignment Programme, a collaboration between the five agencies with statutory responsibilities in the Mackenzie Basin.

Land Information New Zealand is part of this programme, working with Mackenzie District Council, Waitaki District Council, Environment Canterbury, and the Department of Conservation.

Individually and collectively, the five agencies are working with the Mackenzie community to protect the iconic Mackenzie landscape, its water quality and its precious indigenous flora and fauna.

The organisations are working more closely than ever before, taking a joined-up approach to ensure activities are not consented for in isolation.

The five agencies have established the Mackenzie Inter-Agency Officers Forum, which brings together land management and consenting practitioners from across the Mackenzie Basin to discuss land management and consent cases, share context from within each agency and provide greater transparency and communication about the management of the public land in the Mackenzie. The Forum has met regularly over the past few months and marks a significant change to the way consents have been considered in the past.

As part of the Alignment Programme, LINZ is leading the Maps and Data work to provide a publicly viewable map-series across the Mackenzie Basin that displays a broad range of information about the land. The final product will bring together data from a range of organisations and house it all in one place.

This will help increase the awareness of what data is collected, provide a clearer view of the current state of the Mackenzie Basin and enable more transparent decision making. It’s anticipated this system will go live towards the end of 2019.

If you are interested in finding out more, please visit the website:

About the MacKenzie Basin Agency Alignment Programme

The Alps2Ocean Ultra showcases the heart of the high country

By Phil Holland, Senior Advisor Crown Property .

On 24 February 2019, I lined up along with 122 entrants from 14 different countries in the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook at the start of the ultimate adventure race, the second Alps2Ocean Ultra. What lay before us was a seven day, 323km journey, on foot from Aoraki/Mount Cook, to Oamaru which would challenge the hardiest athlete, yet alone first-time ultra-athletes like me. Michael Sandri the race director and instigator of the race promised us that what lay before us will be tough, often at the limits of what we think we are capable of but also a life changing experience.

Lake Ohau, our destination on day 2 (Photograph by Kristy Lind Design)

Based on but not constrained by the A2O cycle trail, the race passes 8 lakes, takes in valleys, rivers and diverse terrain that the Waitaki Valley offers. Like the cycle trail itself, the Alps2Ocean Ultra relies on the good will of private land owners, the Department of Conservation, and LINZ, all of whom have been incredibly generous with their permission and support.

Sometimes the vastness of the landscape seemed to swallow us up: Quailburn Road Omarama 45km into the 90km long stage (Photograph by Linda English)

The ethos of the race organisers, who are based in Oamaru, is simple; they want to bring people to their region to showcase what it has to offer, to host an inclusive race that caters for the elite athlete and the bucket lister and to contribute any profits to the community of Otago and the Mackenzie Country, with a focus on youth.

Seven days later, 98 of us crossed the finish line. The fastest was Keith Burrows in a total elapsed time of 30 hours and 44 minutes and me at 87th in a much more modest 70 hours. However, ultimately for me my time and placing quickly fades from the memory and what is left is the deep friendships forged in an unforgettable landscape and a profound sense of satisfaction in having confronted what I had believed to be my limitations. 

A golden memory of day 5, Lake Benmore from Te Akatarawa Station (Photograph by Linda English)

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