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High Country Protests Eviction

High Country Protests Eviction

10 November 2006

High Country families waving placards saying “Please Do Not Evict Us” and “I Love Mt Ida” staged a protest in Alexandra today.

Mt Ida families rallied against a formal recommendation by an agent of the Commissioner of Crown Land that a High Country pastoral occupation lease should be designated a conservation area under full Crown ownership and control.

The proposal could strip the farmers of their long-running license to use the land for grazing sheep for part of the year.

Ten families farm five properties on the high country block on the Waitaki side of the Ida range, about 200km from Dunedin. The crown’s agent, property services firm DTZ, has conducted a review of tenure on the license, which covers 8,401 hectares.

“Mt Ida families and Federated Farmers strongly object to the preliminary proposal,” said Donald Aubrey, chair of the Federation’s High Country industry group.

“The syndicate is a unique partnership not found elsewhere in New Zealand. The land provides summer grazing for 10,000 ewes for three crucial months. The area has been grazed for 109 years in an ecologically sustainable way that has retained significant indigenous vegetation.

“Without this important summer grazing the accompanying lowland properties of syndicate members are not economically sustainable. Removing these grazing rights may force these High Country farmers off land farmed by their families for generations.

“Their stewardship and the proven sustainable grazing and weed management they provide means that the best option to retain this tussock grassland is for them to continue to have access to it, rather than locking it up in the conservation estate.

“We strongly believe that sustainable grazing management is the best option available to maintain and enhance the Mt Ida syndicate land. It is imperative that this tussock grassland area is retained by proven methods for all to enjoy.” he said.

“Public access is already available to the many people who have enjoyed the area by using tracks that are provided and maintained by farmers,” Mr Aubrey said

The protest outside the DTZ office in Alexandra was driven by Mt Ida families, who invited Federated Farmers to lend support.

ends

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