Rural round-up

February 14, 2018

Disease leaves pair with nothing – Annette Scott:

In early June last year all was looking rosy for South Canterbury contract milkers Mary and Sarel Potgieter.

By the end of July their lives had been turned upside down and their dairy business was on a rapid downward spiral because of their honesty over Mycoplasma bovis.

Now the self-described Mb founders are in two minds over the call they made to the Ministry for Primary Industries to report untreatable mastitis in their dairy herd.

“We first noticed a problem in early June. By the end of June we had 162 cows showing signs and the vet was flabbergasted,” Mary said.

“By mid-July we had tried everything. We had done tests and milk samples, nothing could be cultured – it was not normal mastitis. . . 

QEII National Trust defending protected land:

QEII National Trust are in the Supreme Court today defending the intentions of the original landowner to protect 400 ha of Coromandel forest land forever against someone who wishes to overturn covenant protection to develop a property for commercial purposes.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “covenants are protected for the benefit of current and future generations because of the vision of the original owner who loved the land and wanted to protect it. Individually and collectively covenants represent a huge legacy to the country.” 

Grumblings on the grapevine – are seasonal workers treated well in NZ? – Johnny Blades:

You see them in small groups, often two or three, walking along Blenheim’s roadsides to the big supermarkets.

Young men from the Pacific Island archipelago of Vanuatu, they stand out in a New Zealand region not known for its multi-culturalism.

But here in grape country, Marlborough, ni-Vanuatu are the driving force behind New Zealand’s growing wine industry.

There are over 4000 ni-Vanuatu, or ni-Vans as they’re known, doing seasonal work this year under New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme  . . .

Women’s group seeks new head – Annette Scott:

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers has called time on the organisation she has helped to grow over the past four years.

De Villiers had solidified the organisation’s systems, structures and reputation in the industry, chairwoman Cathy Brown said.

Her commercial and financial expertise had led the not-for-profit organisation into a strong position.

“We have also grown our membership significantly during her tenure. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Andy Fox – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five:  Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Proud Farmer Andy Fox.
How long have you been farming?

Having been brought up on a farm, I was keen from an early age to go farming. Besides working as a builder, a mechanic, a period on my OE and Uni I have farmed all my life.  Since about 2000, I have farmed only a proportion of the time which allows me time to sit on agricultural boards, contribute to other industry good activities and to undertake volunteer work.

   What sort of farming are you involved in?

I am the 4th generation on “Foxdown” in the Scargill Valley, North Canterbury. We are a sheep and beef protein producer on a dry-land hard hill property. We aim to produce the best base ingredient for a quality eating experience, while maintaining the farm in a way that makes this production sustainable and improves the state of the land for the future. We also have approximately 400 visitors a year to the farm museum and a walking track that is a 4 hour return walk to the top of the farm, Mt Alexander. . . 

Chattan Farm:

Chattan Farm is situated in an idyllic locale approximately 40 minutes south west of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand’s North Island.

Owners Tim and Jo Mackintosh, along with their children Alice and George, run a livestock operation along with a number of diverse businesses from their 680 hectare farm. Sheep and beef production is the cornerstone of the Chattan Farm operations, where they produce up to 5000 stock units a year of Romney, East Friesian and Texel sheep along with Angus cattle. Along with these stock numbers Tim says they also graze dairy heifers.

“We generally grow out around 400 head of heifer stock from the age of four months through to 18 months,” Tim said. . . 

New fund to help sustainable farming school at Waipaoa:

The trustees have established the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust (WSFCTT) Endowment Fund at the Sunrise Foundation to help build long term financial stability into the organisation.

Ken Shaw, WSFCTT Chair, says although they have been operating for ten years and are pleased with the progress they have made, a reliable ongoing source of revenue is their biggest challenge.

“We are lucky to have had the generous support of many individuals and organisations in the agricultural industry, which has helped us build Waipaoa into the success it now is. Even so we have to secure our sponsorship every year, and we know we can’t rely on the same people and organisations to keep giving year on year.” . . 

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Rural round-up

September 3, 2017

Irrigation brings environmental improvements Greenpeace wants – Andrew Curtis:

I am sure Greenpeace felt very proud of themselves when they locked themselves inside a Central Plains Water irrigation pipe to “protest dairy intensification”.

They shouldn’t be. Quite apart from putting themselves at risk on a dangerous construction site, breaking the law and tying up police time, they were wrong on a number of counts.

The first problem with the Greenpeace protest was the idea that irrigation schemes like Central Plains Water automatically lead to more dairy intensification. This is not true. The new farms connecting to Central Plains Water are traditional mixed cropping farms. The same holds true for other new irrigation developments like the Hurunui Water Project in North Canterbury, the North Otago Irrigation Company and Hunter Downs in South Canterbury. Across the country, around 50 percent of irrigated land has other uses – growing food, raising sheep and beef cattle, and for wineries. . .

Hawke’s Bay honey company stung by theft:

A Hawke’s Bay honey company has been stung by the theft of almost 500,000 bees.

Nineteen hives of Arataki Honey were stolen from a remote forestry block in Putere, an hour and a half north of Napier, this week.

The site was hidden from the road and Arataki Honey’s field manager Duncan Johnstone said the thieves must have known where to find the bees.

It was an expensive loss for the company – each hive is valued at $700 and all up it was a $20,000 loss. . .

QE II Trust Members reappointed:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced the re-appointment of two members of the Queen Elizabeth ll National Trust.

“I’m delighted Chairperson James Guild (MNZA) and Director Bruce Wills have agreed to stay on the board and continue the excellent work underway as the Trust celebrates its 40th anniversary,” Ms Barry says.

“Both men will serve another 3-year term and use their considerable skills and experience to ensure the Trust continues to win support from landowners willing to covenant their land for future generations. . .

Dairy industry set for big crash – Susan Murray:

The dairy sector faces another big price drop if the industry doesn’t continue to push for innovative ways to use dairy protein, warns KPMG.

Dairy companies need to think of themselves as protein or nutrition companies, said KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot.

He said there will be 10 or more items able to compete with traditional natural cow’s milk in a supermarket chiller.

“It’s interesting to me when I look at what’s happened in the last sort of six months – as the dairy price has gone up, the desire for change has gone down. . . 

Powering up Predator Free 2050:

National will boost Predator Free 2050 with $69.2 million of new funding over the next four years to ramp up the ambitious, world-leading pest eradication programme, Conservation Spokeswoman Maggie Barry says.

“We have been absolutely thrilled with the enthusiasm of communities up and down the country about Predator Free since it was launched one year ago,” Ms Barry says.

“National in Government will match the commitment of our volunteers, councils and philanthropists and turn this project into something that will achieve what Sir Paul Callaghan called “New Zealand’s moonshot”.” . . 

Smith welcomes sanctuary pest control work:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith is hailing today’s pest control operation in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary as a win for the survival of New Zealand’s native birds.

“The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust has fought long and hard for today’s pest control operation. It has had to go to court three times as a result of action by the Brook Valley Community Trust to try to stop it, and three times the court has backed the Sanctuary Trust,” Dr Smith says.

“The science is clear that the only way birds like kiwi, kokako, kea and kaka will survive is to effectively control the pests that have decimated their populations. I can appreciate people’s angst at killing rats, stoats and possums but every year these pests brutally kill 25 million native birds. . . 

This tiny country feeds the world – Frank Viviano:

In a potato field near the Netherlands’ border with Belgium, Dutch farmer Jacob van den Borne is seated in the cabin of an immense harvester before an instrument panel worthy of the starship Enterprise.

From his perch 10 feet above the ground, he’s monitoring two drones—a driverless tractor roaming the fields and a quadcopter in the air—that provide detailed readings on soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, and growth, measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual potato. Van den Borne’s production numbers testify to the power of this “precision farming,” as it’s known. The global average yield of potatoes per acre is about nine tons. Van den Borne’s fields reliably produce more than 20.

That copious output is made all the more remarkable by the other side of the balance sheet: inputs. Almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a national commitment to sustainable agriculture under the rallying cry “Twice as much food using half as many resources.”  . .

#LoveLambWeek: Sheep farmers call on consumers to put lamb back on plates –

The next generation of sheep farmers has called on the next generation of shoppers to put lamb back on plates across Britain through Love Lamb Week.

Over the past 15 years, fewer people have been regularly eating the very British meat, and with those aged 55 years and over making up the lion’s share of the market, time is ticking for lamb.

This year the annual campaign runs from 1-7 September, and social media users are being urged to tweet the hashtag #LoveLambWeek . . .

 


Rural round-up

May 11, 2017

Dairy Awards highlight immigrant commitment:

The value of new immigrants to the dairy industry was on show at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland last night.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman Andrew Hoggard says while immigration builds as an election issue, it was particularly significant that runner up to the most prestigious award were 33 year-old Filipino immigrants Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos.

The couple have worked their way up through the dairy industry and are a shining example of the significant contribution and leadership our immigrants can provide. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award. . .

Remuneration survey finds modest lift in farm employee salaries:

There has been a modest rise in farm employee salaries over the last 12 months, the 2017 Federated Farmers-Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration survey shows.

The mean salary for employees on grain farms increased by 2.3 per cent since the 2016 survey, while the mean salary increased by 1.8 per cent and 0.3 percent for employees on sheep and beef and dairy farms respectively.

The survey was completed earlier this year and collected information from 914 respondents on 2834 positions.

Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said it was positive to see farming salaries creeping upwards given the tough economic conditions experienced by farmers in recent years. . .

Sheep and beef farmers make biodiversity contribution through QE11 covenants:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are making a significant contribution to this country’s biodiversity and landscape protection, a new study on Queen Elizabeth 11 National Trust covenants has highlighted.

The study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research quantifies the financial commitment made by landowners who have protected around 180,000 ha since the Trust was established in 1977.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor said the report showed that two thirds ofQEII covenants are on primary production land, with 47% of all covenants being on sheep and beef farms. Some farms have more than one covenant and many farmers open their covenants to the community, often partnering with schools and local community groups. . .

Farmers take a lead in environment protection

Farmers’ environmental credentials have been under attack from some quarters of late but new research highlights just one way those who work the land also strive to look after it.

Federated Farmers welcomes a study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research that highlights the impact and costs of land placed under covenant via the QE II National Trust.

“Farmers have been front and centre in the activities of the QEII National Trust right from the start. We congratulate them on their 40th anniversary, and for commissioning this study,” Federated Farmers environment and water spokesman Chris Allen says. . .

New fund launched to support QEII covenantors

A new fund to help covenantors with the management of their covenants was launched today by QEII National Trust Chair, James Guild, at an event hosted by Rt Hon David Carter at Parliament’s Grand Hall.

The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement aims to support covenantors with strategically important enhancement projects they have planned for their covenants. . .

Irrigation funding for Kurow Duntroon welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $388,000 in new development grant funding for the Kurow Duntroon Irrigation Company (KDIC) from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd.

“This grant is an important step forward for this project which could have major benefits for the North Otago region,” says Mr Guy.

The funding is required to complete the remaining work to reach construction commencement and confirm the commercial viability of the proposed scheme. . . 

New national body to represent Rural Support Trusts:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed the election of a national body to represent all 14 Rural Support Trusts across the country.

“Rural Support Trusts do fantastic work supporting our rural communities in tough times, and this new central body will make them more efficient and effective,” says Mr Guy.

“It will provide single point of contact for other national organisations and the Government, and help the different regions share resources and experience.

“Rural Support Trusts operate independently in their areas, staffed by local people who really know their local communities. . .

Moving Day: need to know:

It’s a familiar date in the dairying diary, Moving Day, and here’s what herd owners need to know to meet their NAIT and TBfree requirements when moving their dairy herd to a new farm.
· Update contact details and record stock movements in NAIT
· Check the TB status and testing requirements of the destination area . . 


QEII covenantors invest millions in conservation

May 10, 2017

QEII National Trust covenanting landowners spend an estimated $25 million of their own money every year to protect native species, forests, wetlands, and other special areas.

This was the finding of a University of Waikato Institute for Business Research study.

These landowners, the majority of which are farmers, have made an overall financial commitment of around $1.1 to $1.3 billion to protect these special areas of private and leased land since the
QEII National Trust was set up forty years ago.

The study was released today at an event hosted by Rt Hon David Carter at Parliament’s Grand Hall. The event was organised by the QEII National Trust as part of its 40th anniversary programme of events.

Working in partnership with the QEII National Trust, covenanting landowners have invested to establish over 4,300 covenants protecting around 180,000 ha since the National Trust was established in 1977. This works out at an average of two new covenants established every week since that date.

The area being protected by covenants is still growing with a further 115 on track to be registered this year alone.

It’s encouraging to see this growth after the previous Labour-led government stalled QEII covenenting.

The study was commissioned to provide a framework for estimating the cost effectiveness of conservation activity facilitated by Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, and to quantify the financial commitment made by National Trust covenantors in their covenanted land for the public good.

‘This is the first time the National Trust has undertaken research of this nature and it has given us a clear indication of the huge investment landowners around New Zealand have made in covenants since the National Trust was set up 40 years ago,’ Trust Chair James Guild says.

‘With the release of this report we acknowledge the hard work, philanthropy, generosity, and passion of the thousands of landowners who have voluntarily elected to covenant special places on their land with the National Trust.

‘Together they are making a very significant contribution towards the protection and enhancement of our threatened ecosystems and biodiversity on private land to ensure New Zealand’s uniqueness is protected forever,’ he says.

The QEII National Trust partners with private landowners wanting to permanently protect special natural and cultural features on their land with covenants. QEII (open space) covenants are legally binding agreements that are registered on the land title and protect the associated land and its natural values forever. The covenanting landowner and subsequent owners retain ownership of and management responsibilities for the protected land.

The QEII National Trust is the perpetual trustee to ensure the purpose and objectives of the covenant are achieved by monitoring the covenant and providing advice and other support to the landowner.

Analysis of data collected for the study has shown environmental gains  and substantial costs, both direct and in lost potential earnings, for land owners:

· Waterway protection (20%), restoration planting (19%), wetland restoration (18%), weed control (15%), pest control (7%) and fence maintenance (7%) are the major contributors to total maintenance costs for QEII covenants.

· The total estimated maintenance expenditure on covenants is $25 million per year and has a net present value of $387 million (calculated over 30 years). That equates to an average of just under $6,000 per covenant per year or $150 per hectare of covenanted land.

· 53% of covenanted areas would have had an alternative economic use (for example, grazing, residential development, exotic forestry) that is foreclosed by the decision of the landowner to covenant the land to protect its natural values. Grazing is the most common economic use foreclosed by the covenant, followed by housing and exotic forestry.

· The total opportunity costs (the loss of potential income from other alternative uses due to development and use restrictions) associated with the covenants that had alternative uses foreclosed is estimated to be in the range of $443 million to $638 million. That equates to approximately $105,000 per covenant or $2,657 per hectare of covenanted land (calculated over 30 years with a 5% discount rate).

The loss of potential earnings could also be reflected in a lower value for the whole property when it’s sold.

· The total estimated expenditure on covenant establishment up until June 2016 was around
$205 million. That is approximately $50,000 per covenant on average, or $1,228 per hectare of covenanted land.

· The biggest cost for landowners establishing covenants is fencing the covenanted areas to exclude livestock (30%) followed by initial weed control (18%), restoration planting (10%) and wetland restoration work (10%).

· Calculated over a 30-year period with a 5% discount rate, the annual maintenance expenditure on covenants adds up to an investment in the order of $92,000 per covenant or $ 2,300 per hectare of covenanted land.

· The estimated net present value of the total commitment by land owners across the nation in
QEII open space covenants is estimated to be in the range of $1.1b to $1.3b, or over $260,000 per covenant.

· It should be noted that despite virtually all QEII covenants running in perpetuity, the maintenance costs and revenue foregone has been estimated only over a 30 year period with a 5% discount rate.

QE II covenants are a win-win for conservation and property rights.

Landowners retain ownership of their land while preserving landscapes of aesthetic, cultural, recreational, scenic, scientifc, or social interest or value.

The full report is here or a hard copy can be requested by writing to the QEII National Trust, PO Box 3341, Wellington.


Rural round-up

January 17, 2017

Developing wealth from water – Keith Woodford:

Current controversies about exporting water, be that in bottles or in bulk tankers, draw attention to New Zealand’s key resource.  Yes, that resource is indeed water. In a world that is chronically short of water, we in New Zealand are greatly blessed.

It is because we are so blessed that until recently we have taken the presence of water for granted. Essentially it has been a free resource.  As a consequence, water law in New Zealand is real messy. And that leads to major impediments to water being used efficiently, and in ways which the different groups in society can agree on as being ‘fair’. 

Water that falls as rain on private land has de facto use rights. But once that water runs off into a stream, or permeates below the level where plants can extract it, then it belongs to the Crown – in effect the people of New Zealand. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Annual Result:

Silver Fern Farms has reported a net operating loss before tax and impairment of $7.5m million for the 12 months ended September 2016 on income of $2.2 billion. This compares to a net operating profit of $30.8m and income of $2.5 billion the prior year.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $32.1m, down from $90.5m the prior year. . . 

Loss ‘disappointing’ for Silver Fern Farms – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett has described the company’s financial results as “particularly disappointing” after it posted a $30.6million after-tax loss.

The loss, for the year ended September, compared with a $24.9million net profit in the previous financial year.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) were $32.1million, down from $90.5million.

A $7.5million net operating loss, before tax and impairment and on income of $2.2billion, compared to a net operating profit of $30.8million and income of $2.5billion the previous year. . . 

$34.5M Dividend for Co-Op Shareholders:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited shareholders will receive a $34.5 million special dividend on 14 February.

The dividend of 30 cents per share on all Ordinary Shares and Rebate Shares follows the completion of Shanghai Maling Aquarius’ $267m investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited and the distribution to the Co-operative of $57million from that process which occurred in December 2016.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chair Rob Hewett says the special dividend will be welcome news to shareholders. “This is the first dividend shareholders have received since 2008. Their support and patience as we have developed our Plate to Pasture value added strategy over the past 7 years has been critical to Silver Fern Farms.” . . 

Patron announced for QEII National Trust:

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is pleased to announce that Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy has accepted its invitation to become Patron.

National Trust CEO Mike Jebson said the National Trust is honoured to have the Governor-General’s patronage.

‘Her Excellency considers conservation and sustainable practices to be of great importance to New Zealand.

‘Her sponsorship is a wonderful endorsement of the efforts the National Trust and its members do in this field of work for the benefit of all New Zealanders,’ Mr Jebson said. . . 

Last bastion of pioneering family’s links to the past goes on the market for sale:

A character-filled homestead linking a pioneering family with colonial roots dating back some 150 years in New Zealand’s past, has been placed on the market for sale.

The museum-like home linked to the Alison family in the Northland township of Waipu is adjacent to farm land first settled by direct descendants of the founding family in 1866.

With the last two grand-children of pioneering settler Duncan Alison passing away without any children of their own, the four-bedroom home and lifestyle block-sized landholding have been placed on the market for sale. . . 

Karaka 2017 to Showcase the Cream of the Australasian Sire Crop:

All of the biggest names in New Zealand and Australia’s sire ranks will be represented in force at the upcoming 2017 National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka.

Waikato Stud stallion Savabeel had a boomer of a Sale in 2016, amassing an aggregate of $11.545 million in the Premier session alone. Last season’s champion sire in terms of domestic, Australasian and worldwide earnings, and the leading sire again so far in 2016-17, Savabeel will again be represented by an impressive crop of 64 yearlings in the Premier catalogue. . . 


Covenants protect land in perpetuity

July 18, 2016

The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the QEII National Trust, upholding the protection of its covenants:

. . .Spanning 4 years, the case has been taken as far as the High Court and on to the Court of Appeal by the property developer, who has been trying to overturn the 404ha forest covenant he owns on the Coromandel Peninsula. His intention was to have the covenant removed so the land could then be subdivided for lifestyle blocks, to the detriment of the protected area’s ecological values and the intentions of the original covenantor. The covenant agreement allows for the construction of one dwelling only.

The land in question was covenanted in 1997 to protect a block of lowland tawa-towai forest. The block sits within a network of other protected lands that together form a wildlife corridor, connecting the Coromandel Forest Park in the middle of the Coromandel Peninsula to the Peninsula’s eastern coast.

National Trust Legal Manager, Paul Kirby, said the latest ruling has further strengthened open space covenants as an excellent mechanism for protecting land.

‘This win exemplifies the purpose of the National Trust as the perpetual Trustee of covenants,’ Mr Kirby said.

 ‘With the ruling in favour of the National Trust, the intentions and wishes of the original covenantor, who is now deceased, have been honoured and upheld when he was not here to do that himself,’ he said.

Described as a ‘complex’ case by the Court, the decision has established new case law and corroborates existing case law from a previous High Court hearing on the same matter, confirming that open space covenants have the protection of ‘indefeasibility’ under the Land Transfer Act. It has been confirmed in law that, once registered on a land title, open space covenants bind current and future owners and are not susceptible to attack arising from defects or error.

The Court confirmed that the National Trust acted in the best interests of the original covenantor, Mr Russell, and fulfilled its statutory mandate for the benefit of the people of New Zealand. It also awarded the highest possible costs to the National Trust.

The National Trust’s Chief Executive, Mike Jebson is delighted with the outcome.

‘It has been a time consuming and costly exercise but we now have excellent case law that should categorically put an end to any similar challenges on the status of open space covenants,’ he said.

‘We are a charity organisation with limited funds but this case was something that we could not afford to drop. It has diverted precious funds that would normally have been used for protecting land and supporting covenantors. We are hugely relieved, therefore, that some of our costs will be recovered with this decision,’ he said. . . 

Federated Farmers supports the ruling:

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen says the decision ensures a new landowner cannot get open space covenants lifted so they build on the land, in this case a developer wanting to build lifestyle blocks.

“As landowners, farmers are some of the biggest contributors to environmental protection in New Zealand.

“Farmers care deeply about the environment and leave a protected legacy for future generations. Our members are extremely proud of their work and achievements on their farms to protect and enhance biodiversity,” Mr Allan said.

“This latest ruling in the Coromandel shows open space covenants as an excellent mechanism for protecting land; even better than District Plans and arguably more than National Parks.”

The QEII National Trust was set up in the 1970s, when a visionary group of farmers came together to investigate ways they could protect special natural and cultural sites on their land after they were gone.

These landowners were the driving force behind the establishment of the QEII National Trust, which was set up in 1977 by an Act of Parliament to deliver on their aspirations.

Federated Farmers strongly support and acknowledges the existing investment in its partnership with QEII working with landowners to enhance and protect our special places and things. . . 

Covenants are legal agreements and any restrictions they place on future owners ought to be reflected in the price they pay for the land.

Landowners place covenants on their land to protect it in perpetuity and this court ruling upholds that protection.

 


Significant gift to nation from foreign owner

March 9, 2015

The largest private land protection is a significant gift to New Zealand and its come from a foreign owner:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says today’s opening of the Mahu Whenua covenants under New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement, is a significant gift to the nation.

53,000 hectares of land in central Otago has been gifted by philanthropist and music producer Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange of Soho Property Ltd, through a partnership with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

“This is indeed a great day for New Zealand conservation. We are very grateful for Mutt Lange’s extraordinary generosity and vision in securing permanent protection for this unique and special landscape,” says Ms Barry.

The four open space covenants cover land on Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, bordered by the Shotover River and the Cardrona Valley.

“The agreement not only permanently protects the natural values and human history of this landscape, but also allows for public access with 21 tracks and trails for all visitors to enjoy,” says Ms Barry.

“Congratulations to the QEII National Trust, which has been working alongside private landowners for nearly 40 years helping them protect special natural and cultural heritage places throughout the country.”

This year the National Trust will register its 4,000th open space covenant and since it was established in 1977 it has secured more than 178,000 hectares of private land to be held in trust for the nation.

The covenants were formally opened by Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, on Saturday.

Sir Jerry, in a speech on Saturday, said: ”New Zealand’s isolation has seen us as a nation develop a very strong sense of place.

”For many of us, even those who live in cities, the landscape of our country, especially the high country, captures our sense of home.

”Those rugged hills and valleys, formed over the millennia, are as representative of New Zealand as the silver fern.” . .

Trust patron Sir Jerry described the covenants as a ”significant gift to New Zealand”.

He said while humankind’s presence is certainly visible now, the landscape will be here long after we are gone.

”This Maori proverb captures that idea: Toitu he whenua, whatungarongaro he tangata? The land remains while people disappear.”

Trust chairman James Guild said protection of such a large tract of private land would not have been possible without the vision and generosity of Mr Lange.

Mr Guild said: ”Mr Lange has instigated the protection of an extensive landscape that is rich in natural and cultural heritage.

”He has in effect created New Zealand’s first private national park.

”We celebrate his tremendous philanthropy and the legacy he leaves on this landscape with his covenants.”

Mr Guild said the land’s scenic and intrinsic values and the opportunity for people to get out and enjoy it are safeguarded forever.

The covenants protect the landscapes, the habitat of unique native plants and animals, important historic and cultural sites, public access, and recreation values.

Mr Guild emphasised that covenanting land is voluntary and not a requirement of the Overseas Investment Office or the Government. . .

This is a huge area of land and the covenanting is an act of extraordinary generosity on the part of its owner.

Locals have covenanted large tracts of land through the QE II Trust, although none on this scale.

The significance of this gift coming from a foreign owner is that it shows land sales to foreigners should be judged on their merits and there should not be, as some would wish it, a blanket ban on foreign ownership of land.

 


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