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Another NZ high country property to DOC

Media Release – September 13, 2004

Another NZ high country property to DOC

North Canterbury high country farmers Mark and Karen Feary today confirmed that Mt Oxford station which has been in their family for 70 years is to go to the Department of Conservation (DoC).

The Fearys have only recently decided not to challenge the legality of the Commissioner of Crown Lands’ decision that the whole of the 1780ha Mt Oxford block is to be handed over to DoC.

``Instead we will be seeking our full entitlement to compensation from the commissioner,’’ Mark Feary said today.

To date, the Government has agreed to cash settlements for the Fearys as part of the Crown’s ongoing attempts to resolve the numerous disputes between us. Total settlements to date amount to $862,000.

In the latest settlement of August 30, the commissioner accepted the April 2002 settlement was not confidential.

``This admission by the commissioner has bought to an end another frustrating and protracted dispute.

``Out of the turmoil of the last two years, there has been some good and bad news.

``It has taken my wife and I two more long gruelling years only to end up back at what was agreed upon in the first place. However, for the privilege of going around in circles, the commissioner will only pay $84,000 of our $130,000, leaving us with a loss of $46,000.

``The good news is the commissioner has agreed that all our other legal costs are payable in full. They will continue to pay such costs until resolution of all disputes is reached.’’

The Government has agreed that the final payment for the loss of Mt Oxford station, and to bring this dispute of more than 20 years to an end, will not be confidential.

The long and difficult journey for the New Zealand farming couple will be of significant interest to the public and to other high country farmers.

Ends

Note: Chronology of confidentiality dispute:

April 17, 2002 – The commissioner was asked if he wanted a confidentiality provision in the settlement and his ‘reported reply’ was he ``did not seek the inclusion of a confidentiality provision’’.
April 17, 2002 – on the basis that the settlement was not confidential, a Deed of Settlement was signed. The Commissioner of Crown Lands and the Fearys had reached a settlement they had all wanted.
May 20, 2002 – The commissioner through Crown Law stated ``the Crown would now like the Deed of Settlement to be formally varied to include the following confidentiality clause: except as provided in law this deed is confidential to the parties’’.
May 21, 2002 – The Fearys through their lawyer said they ``wish to delay further consideration of it (such a confidentiality clause)’’.
May 27, 2002 – The commissioner through Crown Law then insisted that ``the Deed of Settlement is already confidential’’.
July 23, 2002 - The Commissioner stated through Crown Law that ``your clients have to be aware that if they proceed to publicise details of the settlement, then on the commissioner’s view of the matter ,they are in breach of mediation and settlement agreement’’.
December 9, 2003 - The commissioner through John Tamihere, minister for Land Information NZ (LINZ) stated ``LINZ has always maintained that the terms of settlement reached under the mediation agreement were and remain confidential notwithstanding the subsequent signing of the Deed of Settlement’’.
August 30, 2004 – In a signed agreement between the Fearys and the commissioner, clause five stated ``this settlement, like the settlement of April 17 2002, is not confidential to the parties’’.

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