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Cattle Flat tenure review should be abandoned

Cattle Flat tenure review should be abandoned

Public recreation advocate Public Access New Zealand (PANZ) today called for a Government review of tenure over the Cattle Flat and Henroost pastoral leases in northern Southland to be abandoned.

Land Information New Zealand proposes that 96 per cent of the 5383 hectare property be freeholded with only 197 hectares publicly reserved.

Of major concern to PANZ are the public access provisions. The public will only gain discontinuous access to the Mataura River, a nationally important trout fishery, and a loop track for walkers and mountain bikers around the existing Mataura Range Scenic Reserve that will be closed for 45 per cent of the year.

PANZ says that the Crown Pastoral Land Act that governs tenure review of Crown land is supposed to secure public access to and enjoyment of Crown land. "All this deal achieves is mass freeholding and security of closure to the public", spokesman Bruce Mason says.

The most alarming aspect of the proposal is an "anglers only" 4WD access easement part way up the Mataura Valley. This is confined to holders of sports fishing licences not the public at large. "We believe this to be in violation of the Crown's statutory duty to secure public access", Mr Mason says. "None of the anglers we have consulted favour special access rights for them".

Rights bestowed on fishing licensees alone do not constitute "the people as a whole" or "all the people", the dictionary meaning of 'public', and are no more than private rights.

If this provision proceeds it will establish a dangerous precedent throughout all the South Island high country whereby selected interests will gain access privileges, at the expense of everyone else. "What next? Access only for clubs, or card-carrying members of political parties?" PANZ believes this proposal to be a travesty of the objects of the Crown Pastoral Land Act and must not proceed.

There is so little that the public is gaining out of this deal that it would be far preferable there is no deal. "The Crown, and the public interest, can afford to wait until far better outcomes can be negotiated in the future", Mr Mason concluded.

The proposal can be obtained from the LINZ web site []. Public submissions close 5 April 2005.

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