Wednesday, August 15, 2018


A farmer illegally digs up a reserve, destroying native vegetation, in order to plant pasture to make the land they lease seem more attractive to foreign buyers. You'd hope that in New Zealand, such actions would lead to charges under the RMA and Reserves Act. Instead, LINZ just retrospectively approves them:

Just as the country’s second-biggest Crown pastoral lease was being touted for sale, riverside reserve land on the farm was converted to pasture without permission to boost its prospects.


As the marketing campaign launched, a roughly 100ha block of Mt White was fenced, and some of it cleared of indigenous plants and put into pasture. Half of the area to be cleared was on a freehold title owned by Mt White, but the other 50ha was reserve land. Government officials didn’t know about the work until two months later, when Mt White sought retrospective permission.

The 50ha of reserve land – about two-thirds the size of Auckland Domain – is part of the 1000ha Riversdale Flats reserve, an area earmarked for inclusion in a national park since 1901. Despite the fact Mt White borders the Arthur’s Pass National Park, the reserve is part of the Mt White lease. Its care, therefore, is in the hands of the lessee, with Government oversight.

The Crown land manager, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), retrospectively approved Mt White’s reserve land work – against advice from the Department of Conservation (DOC) and without punishment of the lessee.

Worse, LINZ then turned around and granted permission to this criminal leaseholder to destroy another thousand hectares of the high country, turning native bush and endangered bird habitat into farmland.

This isn't good enough. LINZ is supposed to act as a guardian of crown land, and prevent it from being destroyed in this way. Instead, they just seem to be rubber-stamping everything. Like MPI, they seem to have been captured by the people they are supposed to be regulating.

Crown pastoral leases are a rort which needs to end. But until they do, is it too much to ask that the public's representatives actually enforce the public's rights, and prevent leaseholders from destroying the environment they are temporarily occupying? And if they're not willing to, they should be sacked and replaced by someone who will.