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High Country Report Flawed

23 February 2006

High Country Report Flawed

Federated Farmers is disappointed in an American academic’s report on land tenure review.

“The report comes to bizarre conclusions that can only be a result of pre-conceived ideas or a poor understanding of New Zealand political and government processes,” said Bruce McNab, the Federation’s spokesman on land tenure review.

The report claims that High Country families have a huge advantage when negotiating land tenure reviews with the government.

“That is so untrue it is laughable. These High Country families and possibly their lawyer are up against the vast machinery of government during the review process. The reviews are negotiated with Land Information New Zealand, a substantial government department. At the same time the Department of Conservation is spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars to advocate strongly for the public interest in each review.

“Meanwhile a host of other groups also take an interest in individual tenure reviews including Forest and Bird, Federated Mountain Clubs, and Fish and Game.

“To claim that the process is strongly biased in favour of the farmer is insulting to High Country families.”

Since 1992, less than seven percent of the 2.4 million hectares of High Country land has completed tenure review.

“If there are vast riches to be made, why have so few reviews been completed, and why have so many farmers refused to enter the tenure review process? The reason is that lessees feel at a huge disadvantage when negotiating with the Crown, or see no real benefit in completing tenure review.

“The report also fails to understand that leaseholders have developed their leasehold land from an undeveloped state in the 19th century to substantial farms. They hold their leases in perpetuity. Any thinking person would understand that farmers should be entitled to something in return for walking away from their perpetual leases after generations of looking after and paying rent for this land,” Mr McNab said.

Tenure review involves High Country farmers agreeing to give up their perpetual leases in return for a smaller area of freehold land, and/or a cash payment.

ENDS

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