Published date
Crown property

Tēnā koutou and nau mai, haere mai to High Country Matters.

Sonya Wikitera posing in front of mountain range

Head of Crown Property Sonya Wikitera on Glenmore Station.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting three of our Crown pastoral leases, Glenhope, Mt Nicholas and Glenmore stations.

Thanks again to Todd Alfeld and Kate Cocks for having me and taking the time to show me around your beautiful backyards.

It was great to see firsthand the challenging terrain and conditions our leaseholders work in, day-in-day out.

The visits couldn’t have come at a better time, as we are currently looking at how we can better support our leaseholders as we transition into a new way of operating over the coming weeks.

As most of you will be aware, from Thursday 17 November, we are making a number of changes to support the implementation of reforms to the Crown Pastoral Land Act.

These changes include a new process for consenting discretionary pastoral activities, stock limitation exemptions, commercial recreation permits and easements. Public access will also be considered during lease transfers and sublease applications and decision summaries published on our website. We recently sent some information about this out to our leaseholders, as well as issued a media release to keep the public informed.

We’ve worked closely with iwi, the High Country Accord, High Country Advisory Group and the Department of Conservation to ensure these changes are robust and workable.

We look forward to working with leaseholders as we enter this next phase and build on our efforts over the last few years to become more active managers of this land.  As part of this next phase, we will soon be carrying out consultation on how we can use farm plans.  We will have more information coming out about this shortly.

In this issue, we have a message from the Commissioner of Crown Lands Craig Harris, updates about our joint new satellite service that has benefits for the ag sector, the health of Ashburton Lakes, a profile on Julia Fettes in our pastoral team, and more.

I hope you enjoy our latest issue, and if you have any feedback, please email

From me and the team here at LINZ, we wish you all a Meri Kirihimete and look forward to reconnecting with you in the New Year.

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei,

Sonya Wikitera – Head of Crown Property

Message from the Commissioner of Crown Lands

Tēnā koutou,

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who provided feedback on the proposed regulations and standards to support the implementation of reforms to the Crown Pastoral Land Act.

I was fortunate to attend a couple of the information sessions and it was great to connect with leaseholders face-to-face and hear from them directly.

The feedback we received has been invaluable in shaping the changes we are making to ensure they are practical and flexible to apply to these diverse landscapes where there is no one-size fits all approach.

It was also good to hear from our leaseholders that they’re looking forward to working more closely with us as we enter this new phase.

Craig Harris presenting to a group

Commissioner of Crown Lands Craig Harris discussing proposed changes at the information session in Bannockburn, Central Otago.

I’m excited to see our  partnership with leaseholders and iwi in managing these iconic landscapes grow.

The Act enables these changes to come into effect without the need for regulations to be in place. At this stage, we expect the regulations to be finalised by Parliament early next year.

We are proceeding with the majority of changes, except the regulation regarding matters the Commissioner of Crown Lands must consider when determining the level of adverse effects on inherent values. We have also decided not to proceed with the LINZ Chief Executive Standard.

This regulation and standard will instead be replaced with operational guidance, including a framework for how we propose to identify and consider inherent values when we are processing applications for discretionary activities. This framework will consider including cultural, heritage, landscape, scientific and ecological values.

Lastly, I appreciate farmers are facing a number of changes at the moment and would like to emphasise that our team is here to help as we all adjust to this new way of operating.

With the end of the year fast approaching, I hope you have an enjoyable break over Christmas and a happy New Year.

Nāku noa, nā

Craig Harris – Commissioner of Crown Lands

Influx in discretionary consents applications

Over the last few months we have had an influx in applications for consent to carry out discretionary activities on Crown pastoral leases.

Pastoral Team Manager James Holborow puts the surge in applications down to the upcoming changes to our discretionary consents process.

“We have around 180 active applications, which is more than double the amount we normally receive in a year.

“I understand there has been some concerns from leaseholders about the new system. We will work through the new process with them to ensure a smooth transition.”

Mr Holborow says given the sheer number of applications, it may take some time for the team to work through these. However, urgent applications will be prioritised to minimise any delays to leaseholders undertaking crucial work on farm.

“To enable these urgent applications to be prioritised, some non-urgent applications will be acknowledged and processed in the New Year.”

Fight to manage pesky pests and weeds

Managing pests and weeds, such as wilding pines, across thousands of hectares of complex terrain is no small task.

Pest and weed control are requirements for leaseholders under the terms and conditions of their lease and most are doing a great job at keeping these in check.

To get the most benefit from control efforts its best to take a joined-up approach and work with others, such as wilding conifer control groups or adjacent landowners, when possible.

This collective approach takes the pressure off leaseholders and land managers feeling like they’re fighting this massive task alone and enables them to target their efforts where it will have the biggest impact.

We encourage leaseholders wanting to find out about any pest or weed control initiatives near them to check in with their regional council or portfolio manager.

Satellite services to benefit ag sector

We have partnered with Geoscience Australia to improve satellite services in Australasia that will benefit just about every major sector, including agriculture.

The Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) project was announced by Land Information Minister Damien O’Connor in mid-September.

He says the project is a “game changer” and will significantly benefit both economies through improved productivity, sustainability and safety. 

Australia and New Zealand highlighted in blue, with a wider coverage zone mostly in the coastal regions of these two countries

A map of SouthPAN’s initial service coverage area.

He says SouthPAN will make current positioning tools up to 50 times more accurate.

Current GPS services are accurate to 5-10 metres. SouthPAN will provide accuracy to as little as 10 centimetres.

The quantified benefits from SouthPAN are estimated to be $864m over 20 years.

SouthPAN will support precision agriculture increasing productivity and production through applications like precision spraying, yield mapping, controlled traffic farming, inter-row seeding, precision spraying and livestock management.

The first SouthPAN services launched on 26 September. The system will be fully operational by 2028.

Partnership to bring world-class positioning services to Australasia

Meet the team – Julia Fettes


Julia Fettes smiling at the camera

Julia Fettes during a pastoral lease inspection.

When did you join LINZ?

I joined the Pastoral Team in October 2021, but actually began my working life at the Department of Survey and Land Information, the predecessor of LINZ, drawing topographic maps.

In those days the cartography was all done by hand.

The map I drew, L34 Puketeraki, is still available, and even covers parts of a couple of pastoral leases!

Topographic map of Puketeraki

 The map Julia drew – L34 Puketeraki.

What attracted you to work at LINZ?

The role provided an opportunity to utilise all the knowledge and various skills I have picked up over my working life.

The chance to get out from behind the desk and into the hills was also very appealing!

What do you enjoy about working at LINZ?

The work at LINZ covers such a wide scope, and I’m continually learning, which I love.

My colleagues and the lessees are also great to work with and learn from.

The variety of work means there’s never a dull moment.     

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

Yes, as a child my family went on long tramps at least twice a year, almost always in the South Island. The bush and tussock of the high country is where I feel most at home.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background prior to joining LINZ?

As a child I went to a small rural school in sheep and beef country near Wellington, before moving to the big smoke of Auckland for high school.

After university and my OE, I met and married a Waikato dairy farmer, and we soon moved to a dairy farm near Leeston in Canterbury.

Later on, I returned to university to study Environmental Science, which looks at human interactions with the environment and how we can address the pressing environmental issues we are facing.

On graduating, I worked at Environment Canterbury before moving on to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. I worked there for three years, helping to manage the lands returned as cultural redress under the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.

It was an incredible learning experience and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute while significantly improving my cultural knowledge and understanding.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

Every fortnight I volunteer at the Christchurch SPCA. I’m also a member of our local stream care group, which has been restoring the headwaters of our local stream for several years and seeing great improvements in water quality and ecology as a result.

I enjoy looking after my garden, which has a variety of fruit trees and several vege beds, which saves me paying the exorbitant supermarket prices.

When time allows, I still love to get out tramping.

Monitoring Ōtūwharekai Ashburton Lakes

Agencies and rūnanga are continuing to work together to explore options to improve the health of Ōtūwharekai Ashburton Lakes.

LINZ and local leaseholders are part of the Ōtūwharekai Working Group, which was established in 2019 to restore lake health and cultural values.

The group includes local iwi, farmers, Environment Canterbury (ECan), Ashburton District Council, Department of Conservation (DOC), Central South Island Fish & Game​, the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and LINZ. 

ECan and DOC have been monitoring water quality of the lakes and streams in the district over the last year and recently released the results which show negative and some positive changes.

ECan Director of Science Tim Davie says the good news is there has been a “real willingness” from landowners and local farmers to go beyond their regulatory requirements to address issues in the catchment, “so we’re confident change is possible”.

To find out more about the lake and stream results, visit the Otuwharekai Working Group website, where you can also sign-up to receive updates on this project.

Panoramic view across the lake towards the mountains

Lake Heron

Did you know

Did you know we recently upgraded our website?

We’ve improved the search function and streamlined the layout so it is now quicker and easier for people to find the information they require about New Zealand’s whenua (land), moana (sea) and arawai (waterways). It also features amazing images of Aotearoa from our free-to-use Basemaps, which has high-resolution aerial imagery of New Zealand, the Chathams and other offshore islands.

If you have any feedback, please email We’d love to know what you think!

Sign up

Subscribe to High Country Matters

Media contact