Tēnā koutou and nau mai, haere mai to High Country Matters.
It has been over a year since we first launched this newsletter to keep you updated on what LINZ is doing to support great outcomes for the South Island high country.
A lot has happened since then, and I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made at both an operational and regulatory level, despite the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
At an operational level, it's great that we remain on track to visit each pastoral lease at least once every two years, despite Covid-19 temporarily halting our visits earlier this year. Over the last year we’ve managed to more than double the number of times we visited pastoral leases, showing we’re committed to becoming more active and hands on managers of this land, and we look forward to building on this over the next year. We have also issued a new Guide for Pastoral Leaseholders in response to feedback highlighting the need for better information around pastoral lease management.
We continue to work closely with key groups, such as the High Country Accord, and High Country Advisory Group, to improve the transparency of our work and ensure we are doing everything we can across the South Island high country.
At a policy level, a recent milestone has been the introduction of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill to Parliament, which is currently before the Environment Select Committee. I acknowledge that the Bill is creating uncertainty and would recommend that if you have feedback on the Bill you make a submission.
Until the legislation changes, tenure review is ongoing, and we recently completed tenure review agreements for Simons Pass and Twin Peaks.
As part of the Covid-19 recovery, we’ve been fortunate to secure an additional $40m funding over the next four years to expand our biosecurity work. We have four workstreams in our biosecurity programme covering acquatic, terrestrial, data and monitoring, and strategic projects.
I’m very pleased with how far we’ve come over the last year, and I look forward to keeping you updated on the improvements we continue to make to ensure we're a strong partner across the South Island high country.
I hope you enjoy this issue and I welcome any feedback you may have. Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone else who may be interested.
Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei,
Jerome Sheppard – Deputy Chief Executive, Crown Property
LINZ has more than doubled the number of times it has visited pastoral leases over the last year, despite Covid-19 challenges.
LINZ Pastoral Team Manager April Hussey, who manages the pastoral team, says the increase shows LINZ’s commitment to becoming a more active manager of the 165 Crown pastoral leases that span 1.2 million hectares in the South Island high country.
April says over the last year her team has carried out 82 visits to pastoral leases.
These visits were for a range of purposes including lease inspections, tenure review discussions, processing discretionary consent applications, and compliance matters.
“I’m pleased to say that despite Covid-19 temporarily halting our visits earlier this year, we’re on track to achieve our commitment to visit each pastoral lease at least once every two years.”
She says portfolio managers are now contacting leaseholders to notify them if their lease is due to be visited this spring/summer and answer any questions they may have.
“If leaseholders would like to request a visit, they can contact their portfolio manager directly who will be happy to arrange to come out.”
April says LINZ continues to look at how it can better support leaseholders, and recently provided all leaseholders with updated Guide for Pastoral Leaseholders.
"The need for clear guidance from LINZ was a big theme from last season's visits, so it's great to be able to provide this updated Guide."
Tēnā koutou, I’m pleased to have recently managed to progress the proposed changes to the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and Land Act 1948.
As many of you will be aware, the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill had its first reading in Parliament on Thursday 24 July and was referred to Environment Select Committee. This is a milestone for the protection of the South Island high country. The Bill is a significant step in our journey to end tenure review and ensure everything that is unique and special about the iconic high country is protected, while still allowing pastoral farming to continue.
With the ending of tenure review, we also need to change the regulatory system to deliver improved outcomes for the Crown's ownership interest and to support leaseholders in the stewardship of the land. Under the proposed changes, LINZ and the Commissioner of Crown Lands – on behalf of the Crown – will be required to ensure ecological, landscape, cultural, heritage and scientific values are maintained, or enhanced, while providing for ongoing pastoral farming.
As I’ve said previously, none of the proposed changes in the Bill are intended to prevent pastoral farming on Crown pastoral land. For most leaseholders, this will largely not change the way they farm, if they are already following best practice to minimise their impact on the environment, as I know many of them are. I would also like to reiterate, that the Bill will not change the rent-setting process, which I know has been a concern for some leaseholders.
If you would like to read the Bill it is available here.
Before the Bill becomes law, there are a number of steps that need to occur, dependent on Parliamentary processes.
If you’re keen to know more about this, you can find out here.
I am confident we have a workable and enduring framework, but I would like to encourage anyone who has any feedback on the Bill to make a submission through the Select Committee process.
With the introduction of the Bill to Parliament, I want to acknowledge the valuable input to the development of the changes from iwi, particularly Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, leaseholders, groups such as the High Country Accord Trust, Forest & Bird, Federated Farmers and the Environmental Defence Society. I would like to thank everyone who previously took the time and effort to make a submission on the Government proposals for enduring stewardship of Crown pastoral land, which has helped shape this Bill.
Nāku noa, nā
Eugenie Sage – Minister for Land Information
As guardians of around two million hectares of Crown land and waterways across New Zealand, LINZ’s biosecurity work plays a key part in protecting these precious places for generations to come. The recent fire in the Mackenzie Basin that swept through wilding pine, was a timely reminder of the importance of this work.
We are fortunate to have secured an additional $40m funding toward our national biosecurity programme from the Government’s Covid-19 recovery package. On top of significant budget increases in the previous two years we now have a total budget of around $70m for biosecurity over the next four years. This funding is expected to create around 70-90 much-needed jobs in areas hard hit by Covid-19.
LINZ Group Manager Biosecurity and Biodiversity Megan Reid says a key focus in the South Island will be tackling pests and weeds in and around braided rivers, and the lakeweed lagarosiphon from some of our favourite lakes including Lake Wanaka and Lake Dunstan.
"We are also looking at how we will work in partnerships with lessees for priority biosecurity projects on pastoral leases.
"We are working to establish strategic projects and partnerships over larger, landscape scale areas to build on this control programme, working alongside iwi and rūnanga and incorporating community goals to restore habitats and protect farmland and livelihoods. At the same time we are continuing to provide support to programmes such as the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme, and the Clean Check Dry programme that warns boaties how easy it is to spread water-weeds such as lagarosiphon if you don’t clean your boat’s motor between waterways.
"In the South Island high country we are working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) on a survey to establish tahr numbers on Crown pastoral land. This information will help us plan and will support leaseholders working through their tahr management plans."
Our biosecurity team will work closely with LINZ’s portfolio managers and pastoral leaseholders, landowners and others to prepare for the survey, which is expected to be completed before Christmas.
For survey information, contact your portfolio manager or email Dave Mole.
For biosecurity and biodiversity programme information, contact Megan Reid.
Karyn is a senior portfolio manager in the pastoral team. She joined LINZ 12 years ago, starting as a portfolio manager in the tenure review team.
She has a strong rural background, after growing up “chasing sheep" on a farm near Lake Ellesmere on the Canterbury Plains and working on farms, from sheep to cropping.
Karyn also holds a Bachelor of Resource Studies with honours and a Master of Resource Studies with distinction in rural planning.
She enjoys all aspects of farm life and considers herself handy at lambing and shearing time. Karyn is also competent in the yards and isn’t afraid to help out when visiting pastoral leases if the odd stray ewe or lamb needs to be rounded up!
She considers herself lucky that she gets to visit some of the most iconic places in the South Island, is involved in protecting some special areas, and can help guide lessees through consenting and tenure review processes.
Outside of work, Karyn enjoys interior design projects (from upholstery to working with chalk paint), scouring markets for vintage finds, experimenting with cookery, and attending her local gym. She is also pulling down an old house on the family farm, which keeps her busy most weekends.