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Don't Blame the Ref

Don't Blame the Ref

6 September 2006

The Commissioner for Crown Lands is doing his best to consider the different interests of all stakeholders in the tenure review process, said Donald Aubrey, chair of the South Island High Country industry group of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

"The commissioner's office is well managed and is an independent government agency that is genuinely trying to steer a fair path between the interests of farmers, environmentalists, and other stakeholders," he said.

"Forest and Bird's attack today on the integrity of the commissioner's preliminary proposal on the Blairich tenure review is regrettable but not surprising. Some environmentalists will never be pleased with the tenure review process and always demand that more land is added to conservation estate, creating an imbalance between productive and unproductive land," Mr Aubrey said.

In this particular instance the commissioner carefully considered all the reports and concluded that most of Blairich should be freeholded rather than pass to the conservation estate.

"That said, the commissioner also concluded that 435 ha of freeholded land be subject to a covenant with the Department of Conservation. Covenants are a welcome approach that present a 'third way' between freeholding and transferring to the conservation estate. The report also recommended the provision of marginal strips, and extensive public access over freeholded land," Mr Aubrey said.

"Many other reviews have resulted in a much greater proportion of land going to the DoC estate. Blairich is just a single proposal within the overall tenure review picture of about 300 properties.

"Federated Farmers is disappointed that Forest and Bird is seeking to undermine the commissioner's work - especially given that the tenure review process is only one sixth of the way through.

"This attack will hopefully be seen for what it is: a bid to bully the commissioner into compromising its independence. This cannot be allowed to happen," he said.

Note: The Commissioner of Crown Lands exercises rights of ownership and has statutory responsibility for all Crown land under the Land Act 1948 and exercises statutory powers and functions under a number of other Acts, including the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and Treaty of Waitangi claim settlement legislation.


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