15 March 2021

Tēnā koutou. Nau mai, haere mai to the first issue of High Country Matters for 2021.

Jerome Sheppard – Deputy Chief Executive, Crown Property

I hope you had a great holiday and spent time recharging your battery with friends and family. I left the city and spent some time in Central Otago and the Pelorus Sounds, enjoying all that these beautiful parts of the country have to offer. 

2021 brings pending legislative changes for the way Crown pastoral land is administered, with the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill. 

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the Bill. The Environment Committee is currently in the process of considering submissions. The Minister provides an update on the Bill and other legislative changes in this issue. 

This issue features a profile on Richard Summerlee in our pastoral team, an update on our pastoral lease visits, and more. 

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

Message from Land Information Minister Damien O’Connor 

Damien O’Connor – Minister for Land Information

Tēnā koutou, I hope you all had a relaxing break over the holidays. I enjoyed spending some time exploring the South Island and took up the opportunity to meet with some of you in your breath-taking backyards. 

I realise now is a busy time on farm, but over the coming months I appreciate the new freshwater regulations and legislative changes to the way Crown pastoral land is managed may be front of mind for many of you. 

The freshwater regulations will impact each of you differently depending on your property, and farming operation. 

Some of you may be meeting these requirements already as part of your efforts to look after our waterways, while others may need to make a few changes to the way you farm.

I realise farmers have faced a number of changes over the last few decades and I’ve been impressed with how you all have risen to the challenge. I appreciate it hasn’t been easy at times. 

For those of you trying to get your head around the latest changes on the horizon, particularly around wintering stock on crop, I encourage you to reach out to Beef & Lamb, Federated Farmers, or the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) for advice on support.  

Thank you for your feedback on the stock exclusion regulations, particularly regarding the low slope land map, which shows areas where wetlands, lakes and rivers must be fenced to exclude stock. Your feedback has been invaluable, and I know the team at MfE appreciated the level of detail you provided to ensure these are accurate. 

If you haven’t provided feedback on the low slope land map and would like to, it isn’t too late, and I encourage you to do so. You can complete a feedback form for your property: Feedback form | Low slope land

Thank you also for your feedback on the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill. The Environment Committee is now considering submissions and will produce a report for Parliament to consider before 25 May. At this stage, I expect the Bill will be passed by the end of the year. If you’re keen to find out more about the next steps for the Bill to become law, see the parliament website: How a bill becomes law  

Nāku noa, nā
Damien O’Connor – Minister for Land Information

Record number of pastoral lease visits

The LINZ pastoral team has been busy getting out and about on pastoral leases over the last few months. 

Last year the team completed a record number of visits and LINZ Pastoral Team Manager April Hussey expects they will do even more this year.

“The aim is to visit 72 pastoral leases this financial year as part of our commitment to visit each lease at least once every two years and we’re on track to reaching that target.

“Since July, we’ve carried out 63 visits and have more scheduled over the coming months, with a strong focus on catching up with lessees we haven’t seen for some time.”

The team visits leases for a range of purposes including inspections, consents, tenure review and compliance matters.

The Pastoral lease team visiting Castle Hill
Pastoral lease visit to Castle Hill

Mapping tool

LINZ has developed an online mapping tool that holds active consent, recreation permit and easement information for all pastoral leases.

April says the tool enables portfolio managers to better support lessees by being able to “see at a glance” all active consents, recreation permits and easements for each lease, even those issued over 20 years ago.  

“We understand it’s challenging for lessees to stay across what consents are active as timeframes and conditions vary and some have ongoing maintenance clauses – while others don’t. 

“This tool will help us better advise lessees on whether they require a new consent to carry out certain activities, or whether they are covered by an existing one.

“In the future, lessees will be able to check this information themselves.” 

Currently the tool is only available to the pastoral team while they check the information is complete and accurate, but LINZ plans to provide lessees access to their lease information once the tool is fully implemented. 

Matagouri research

We recently completed a review of research into matagouri to help understand the risks to these prickly plants and how they react to farming activities, such as applying fertiliser. 

We commissioned ecologist Dr Nicola Day who has a background in researching the impact of global change on plants, fungi, and soil ecology to conduct the study. 

The Commissioner of Crown Lands Craig Harris says the report found there has been relatively limited research done to date on the ecology of matagouri and the impact of farm management on this plant species. 

“We realise some farming practices, such as oversowing and topdressing, can lead to the growth of matagouri in places where it normally wouldn’t occur, raising questions over whether it can be cleared from these areas to allow for farming, or if they should be protected.”

We are now seeking further advice, including from the High Country Accord and Department of Conservation (DOC), about how we consider consents to manage or control this native plant, says Mr Harris. 

Photo of matagouri supplied by DOC
Matagouri. Photo credit: DOC

Fighting fire risks

The wildfires in the Mackenzie late last year were an unfortunate reminder about the importance of taking steps to mitigate the risk of fire. 

We are looking at how we can better manage the fire risk on LINZ managed Crown land, particularly in the high country, which can be especially prone. 

We have been working closely with DOC, Federated Farmers and Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) to come up with potential solutions to minimise the risk of fires on Crown land in the future, including active management of physical hazards.

As with most things, to make a difference, we all need to do our bit.

Fortunately, pastoral land can be less at risk, as it is well grazed, but to further reduce the risk to you, your property, pets and livestock, FENZ advises having safety zones around your home, sheds, and fire breaks around set paddocks to move stock if necessary. For more fire safety tips check out the FENZ website.

Protecting your home and livestock

Just a reminder to our leaseholders, if you wish to carry out a controlled burn of vegetation, timber or bush, you will need to apply for consent from the Commissioner of Crown Lands.

Applying for pastoral consents

FENZ also have some great safety advice when carrying out a controlled burn available on their website.

Fire for land management

We are also contributing funding into research to better understand the impact of fire on grass species, which are able to survive, and how they regenerate.

We will keep you updated on any developments in this space.

AUT assess an area within the Pukaki Scientific Reserve
Auckland University of Technology assess an area within the Pukaki Scientific Reserve that was burnt during the fire in October 2020.

Meet the team – Richard Summerlee

Photo of Richard Summerlee

How long have you been a member of the pastoral team and when did you join LINZ?

I joined LINZ in 2012, starting out in the survey team before making the shift to the pastoral team in 2015.

During my time at LINZ, I’ve also managed other Crown land that LINZ is responsible for overseeing. If lessees are looking to utilise some neighbouring unoccupied Crown land, or build a jetty on the lake, I’m more than happy to help point them in the right direction.

What attracted you to work at LINZ?

The opportunity to work in the high country was too good to miss.

What do you enjoy about working at LINZ?

The variety – whether it's having to deal with an illegal hut someone’s built under the cover of darkness, or helping a lessee herd a heifer that's escaped a paddock during a property inspection, you never know what a new day might bring! 

We’ve got a great team here at LINZ and I enjoy getting to know the lessees within my portfolio.

Richard Summerlee out in the field

Have you always had an interest in the South Island high country?

Yes, it’s a real privilege getting to work in these iconic South Island landscapes.

What are some of your interests outside of work? 

I’m a refugee support volunteer, helping refugees new to Christchurch get to know the city I love.

My wife and I also like to get out into the hills whenever we can. 

There are a few of us at LINZ who play for the local pub’s football team – 2021 is going to be our year!

Consenting matters in the Mackenzie 

Farmers in the Mackenzie are invited to attend a free drop-in session in Twizel to answer any questions they may have about consents. 

Representatives from LINZ, the Mackenzie District Council, Waitaki District Council, DOC, and Environment Canterbury will be available to provide advice on what activities require consent or other permission, which agency you should talk to and what information you need to apply for a consent. 

The event is being held at the Heartlands Centre, Mount Cook Street, on Friday 19 March, 10am to 3pm. 

There’s no need to RSVP, simply come along with any questions you may have.

Did you know

Over the last five years, we have issued 35 recreation permits for filming on pastoral leases.

This has ranged for permitting the filming of blockbuster Hollywood movies like A Wrinkle in Time and Mulan, through to Netflix TV series and TV commercials. 

Given the fast-paced nature of the industry, we work with applicants to ensure they understand what information they need to provide us to allow us to process their permit quickly. 

Permits can be granted for one-off or ongoing activities and are subject to conditions that ensure any impact of the activity on the land and its inherent values is minimised. 

One fun thing – South Island mystery 

Over the years there have been numerous reported sightings of big black cats in the South Island that have sparked debate around whether they are a figment of the imagination, or the real deal. 

One of our portfolio managers is among the believers after seeing one with his own eyes when hunting near Kelly’s Creek, in Arthurs Pass.

Photo of a big cat in the grass
Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

What do you think? Have you come across one on your lease, or in the surrounding area? Email pastoral@linz.govt.nz to let us know. 

 

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