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Clarify Trespass Rules Minister

Clarify Trespass Rules Minister

Associate Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton needs to explain what trespass means, before the whole of New Zealand decides to wander willy-nilly over farms, said John Aspinall, Board member, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc)

Associate Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said on Newstalk ZB on Wednesday night that anyone can climb over a fence onto privately owned land now and it is only trespass when a farmer warns them.

“The Minister is wrong. He is confusing the Trespass Act, which describes how the criminal offence of trespass occurs, with the civil offence of trespass,” said Mr Aspinall. .

“Entering a property is trespass and a civil offence. The law allows landowners to sue those who do as little as throw a cigarette butt onto private land, let alone walk on it.

“At a time when urbanites visit rural New Zealand it is careless for the Minister to make such a fundamental mistake. The access debate is complex, and misinformation on such an issue is very unwise. The Minister must clarify the legal situation urgently,” said Mr Aspinall.


Entry onto private land in the absence of authority from the owner or occupier constitutes trespass;

Owners can take civil or criminal action against trespassers;

Civil action can be taken against trespassers without proof of damage or without warning, and

If trespassers cause damage costs can be recovered by the landowner.

“The access issue is too important for the Minister to get it so wrong, said Mr Aspinall.

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