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Lakeside lands at Tekapo should stay in Crown owne

31 October 2005 - Christchurch

Media release for immediate use

Lakeside lands at Tekapo should stay in Crown ownership

Future tourists at Lake Tekapo may see sprawling lakeside subdivisions and green farm paddocks rather than the current open, natural and tawny, tussock covered landscapes, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society is warning.

“A potential disaster is brewing for conservation, public recreation and Lake Tekapo’s spectacular landscapes if what is proposed for the tenure review on Richmond pastoral lease is typical. Here LINZ has earmarked 11 kms of lake frontage and 6,000 ha of the 9,567 ha lease for freeholding,” Forest and Bird regional field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

“With such extensive privatisation of lakeside land, there is a real prospect of major landscape change from subdivision, forestry and farm development and the public being shut out of walking, picnicking and enjoying the lake frontage.

“All five pastoral leases around Lake Tekapo are involved in tenure review. There is a risk of the whole lake being encircled by private land,” she said.

“Tenure review is most advanced on Richmond on Lake Tekapo’s eastern shores. Here the only lakeside areas that LINZ proposes to protect are a boulderfield and some scree cliffs that are not appropriate for public recreation,” she said.

“The Richmond proposal highlights the major problems with tenure review. High, difficult to access mountain lands with little grazing use are protected, while lower altitude tussock and shrublands, important for their native plants and wildlife, landscape values and recreation opportunities are privatised,” Ms Sage said.

“There is very little public conservation land on the shores of either Lakes Tekapo or Pukaki. LINZ and DOC need to recognise how much New Zealanders enjoy being by the water and the strategic importance of keeping lakeside areas in Crown and public ownership for public recreation and long-term landscape and biodiversity protection, “Ms Sage said.

Background
Most of the land around Lake Tekapo is in five pastoral leases, Richmond, Mt Gerald, Godley Peaks, Glenmore and Mt Hay. All five have joined the Government’s tenure review programme.

Lake Tekapo is a dramatic part of the nationally outstanding landscapes of the Mackenzie Basin.

Existing public land at Lake Tekapo is limited to a 20 metre wide legal road around the lake edge of Lake Tekapo and some small reserves close to Tekapo township.

Richmond pastoral lease is 15 kms from Tekapo township. It is owned by the Crown but leased to farmers. With a subdivision boom in Tekapo and Twizel, extensive freeholding will give the current Richmond lessees the chance for substantial windfall gains, at the public and Crown’s expense, from on-selling land once they gain freehold title.

The Mackenzie District Plan has few controls on subdivision in the rural zone except in a narrow strip beside the lake. Richmond is an obvious part of the views from Tekapo township including the popular Church of the Good Shepherd.

Freeholding risks uncontrolled ad hoc subdivision and more intensive farm development and forestry degrading these special glacial and tussock landscapes at the foot of the Richmond and Two Thumb ranges.

The 6,000 ha. on Richmond which LINZ proposes to freehold includes significant areas of snow tussock, and extensive healthy short tussock grasslands with diverse shrublands, ephemeral tarns, wetlands and deeply incised streams.

The area proposed for freeholding has splendid views to the ranges across Lake Tekapo and up the Godley River to the Southern Alps. If protected as conservation land, it would provide easy accessible country for walking, nature study, and mountain biking for both day and multi day trips,” she said.

The 3,585 ha. LINZ proposes to protect as conservation land is largely the steep upper slopes and screes of the Two Thumb and Richmond ranges and an isolated boulderfield on a river outwash fan.

Forest and Bird has asked that the developed farmed land close to the lake remain in Crown ownership as pastoral lease, and that the proposed conservation areas be extended to include all of the tussock grasslands north of the Round Hill skifield road and the tussock covered moraine lands above 800 metres at the base of the Richmond Range.

LINZ is now considering public submissions on their proposal to privatise much of the Richmond lease.

ENDS

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