Published date
Crown property

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

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

We’ve started the first half of this year with a big focus on improving the visibility of both our work and the information we hold on Crown pastoral land.

One new step is beginning to publish decision summaries of pastoral land applications on our website, a step legislated for in the Crown Pastoral Land Act introduced last year. Publishing decisions is an important move towards improving transparency around our decision-making – read more in the story below.

Regularly visiting High Country leases is another way we share our work, along with maintaining our connections with leaseholders and their properties. In March, our High Country Advisory Group met for the first time this year – combining this with a visit to Inveraray Station, near Canterbury’s Mount Somers. A big thank you to lessee John Chapman and farm manager Bert Oliver for hosting us and sharing their knowledge and views.

The visit enhanced our understanding of the station’s current farming operations –particularly changes that have been implemented to ensure a balance between running a profitable business while enhancing the land’s inherent values. We also enjoyed constructive conversations around how our team processes consent applications.

We will continue to keep in touch with leaseholders, iwi and stakeholder groups over the coming months as we implement pastoral land reforms. Watch out for further updates on new regulations, including those around farm plans which we consulted on at the start of the year.

This month’s edition of High Country Matters includes a profile of Rachel Peach from our pastoral team, along with information about our recently published Long-term Insights Briefing and an update on SouthPAN – the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network.

I hope you enjoy the update. If you have any feedback, please email

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei,

Sonya Wikitera – Head of Crown Property

A group of people on a high country farm

Head of Crown Property Sonya Wikitera and Acting Chief Executive Richard Hawke visit Inveraray Station with other members of our High Country Advisory Group.

New Crown pastoral land application data

Visit our website to see a snapshot of progress on processing requests for discretionary activities and other applications on Crown pastoral land. 

This new information will be updated every month and is available here 

The data includes the status of applications we received before and after the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Act 2022 came into effect in November last year, as well as a breakdown of active applications by activity.

The team continues to focus on processing the applications, prioritising them based on urgency, complexity of activity and where lease visits or extra technical support are needed. 

Following the Act’s changes, we have also started publishing summaries of consent decisions for applications to undertake activities on Crown pastoral land – improving visibility of these decisions. The summaries include the consent type, conditions, a map, and reasons for the decision.

Find the decision summaries here

Briefing explores new tech to boost biodiversity

Whio family in Katipo Creek, Heaphy Track DOC Crown Copyright

Whio family in Katipo Creek, Heaphy Track. DOC Crown Copyright.

Together, Toitū Te Whenua and Te Papa Atawhai Department of Conservation (DOC) manage about 40 percent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s land on behalf of all New Zealanders. This encompasses some of our most iconic and biodiversity-rich alpine environments, wetlands and marine reserves – including our high country.

Both agencies work to protect biodiversity but many of the tools we currently use are resource intensive, expensive, and do not cover enough of our land and sea.

We partnered with DOC to develop a Long-term Insights Briefing that explores how we can help biodiversity thrive through the innovative use of information and emerging technologies.

The briefing identified satellite imagery, artificial intelligence and genetic technologies as three areas that stand out as particularly promising when it comes to boosting biodiversity.

Read more about the Long-term Insights briefing

SouthPAN update

A group standing by a radar dish

SouthPAN is a partnership between Toitū Te Whenua and Geoscience Australia, and earlier this year it hit a big milestone with an event to mark construction of new infrastructure at Awarua, near Invercargill.  

SouthPAN – the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network – will significantly improve the accuracy, reliability and availability of positioning services across New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand’s primary industries are set to benefit from the improvements in positioning technology, which will eventually allow for the wider availability of virtual-fencing technology, precision farming and growing applications, and environmental monitoring. 

Land Information Minister Damien O’Connor is pictured above during a visit to Awarua to see the site of the new ground station, which will include two new antennae that connect to the trans-Tasman satellite-based network.

Read more about SouthPAN

Meet the team – Rachel Peach

A woman standing beside a ute, with mountains and a lake in the background

Rachel is a Portfolio Manager with Christchurch’s pastoral team. 

Could you tell us about your background?

I studied Zoology, and Wildlife Management, before working at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and GNS Science here in New Zealand. I then moved to Canada’s Centre for Conservation Research at Calgary Zoo, where I particularly enjoyed researching land management issues in Ghana and Liberia – looking at how forests could support communities through uses other than deforestation.

Since moving back to New Zealand in 2011, I’ve held various roles before I joined Toitū Te Whenua in March 2022 as a Property Rights Analyst. I’ve worked with the pastoral team on secondment since January, with this recently becoming a permanent position.

What interested you about the pastoral team?

My interest in land management and biodiversity was sparked when I was still at school, visiting family farms in North Otago with my grandmother. Throughout my career, I’ve been particularly interested in biodiversity and ecosystems, and how land responds to such things as human activity or changes in land use. My pastoral colleagues are deeply involved in these issues through high country land management, so it’s been great to learn and share my experiences with the team.

What do you like about working at Toitū Te Whenua?

Toitū Te Whenua is supportive of people exploring different roles within the organisation where they have a special interest or expertise. My secondment enabled me to share my experiences and knowledge across teams and has led to a new permanent role. It's encouraging to have the backing to take on something new within a supportive environment.

Have you always been interested in the high country?

Definitely. I was lucky to spend a lot of time exploring the South Island while I was at university, from racing to the ski fields on Friday nights to undertaking field work in Fiordland. It gave me a real sense of appreciation for this special part of the world. As a Portfolio Manager, I’m able to go on lease visits and work directly with leaseholders to help manage our pastoral land, and I get to use my experience in land management and research every day.

What are some of your interests outside work?

I love mountain biking and am really excited for some long-distance rides I’ve got coming up, including the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail later this year. I’m also a keen tramper and still do a bit of skiing, although I’m happy to leave the black diamond runs to my son!

Sign up

Subscribe to High Country Matters

Media contact