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Hodgson mischievous with high country claims

13 May 2005

MEDIA RELEASE
IMMEDIATE

Hodgson mischievous with high country claims

The High Country Accord says lands minister Pete Hodgson was being mischievous yesterday when he said the Crown could not 'grab' land it already owns.

The minister was replying to a media statement by ACT MP Gerry Eckhoff about minerals in the high country.

"The high country land Mr Hodgson is referring to is held by farmers with perpetually renewable Crown Pastoral Leases. These leases give farmers a majority ownership interest in their properties," says Accord co-chair Geoffrey Thomson.

"The value of their interest was confirmed by Mr Hodgson's government when it purchased Birchwood Station, a Crown leasehold property in the Ahuriri Valley, for $10 million from the lessee.

"Farmers know Mr Hodgson is making mischief when he says their farms are owned by the Government, because it is patently untrue," he says.

"Pastoral leases are a form of tenure with a legal status which is very similar to freehold. When the government buys this land through tenure review or purchase, the pastoral lease title disappears, and the land becomes nationalised * something which would not be tolerated in any other sector.

"Tenure review applied fairly, flexibly, efficiently and without coercion, can provide benefits to all New Zealanders. Statements by the minister that fail to recognise the legal position of High Country farmers, hinder, rather than help, the achievement of those outcomes."

[ends]

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