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Overseas ownership of High Country still permitted

21 July 2004 - Wellington

Overseas Ownership of High Country Still Permitted

Proposed changes to the Overseas Investment Act, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, will not prevent the sale of New Zealand's high country landscapes to foreign investors, say the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

Sue Maturin, the Society's Southern Conservation Officer said the proposed changes to the OI Act will still allow pastoral leases on publicly owned land to be sold, although consent would be dependent upon the applicant having management plans dealing with public access and conservation issues.

'These management plans are likely to be little more than window dressing, and without any provision for public consultation, New Zealanders will not have any confidence that our natural heritage is being adequately protected.'

'The Government should not contemplate selling any more high country pastoral leases to foreign owners, until they have gone through the public process of tenure review. This would mean that any areas of high landscape, conservation and recreation values would have been identified and protected before sale.'

Pastoral leases cover huge areas of some of New Zealand's most scenic lands, including mountain ranges, lakes, forests, and areas of high conservation value, in Marlborough, Canterbury, Southland and Otago.

'Already some 97,000ha of South Island High Country is held by overseas interests. This is an area equivalent to at least three Paparoa National Parks.' Sue Maturin said.


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