EDS not convinced abandoning tenure review is a good thing
The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has concerns about the decision to abandon tenure review, as described in the
discussion paper released by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) today.
“We are surprised that the Government has already decided to abandon tenure review rather than consult on that
proposition,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.
“It is presenting the public with a fait accompli on the big issue and then consulting on secondary matters. It would
have been better to get public feedback before making such a big call. Tenure review, if run properly, could be a useful
“The problem has arguably been in its implementation which has seen the public ripped off and leaseholders given
exorbitant profits. Past administrative errors and processes could have been addressed whilst retaining the ability to
use tenure review to achieve reversion of full ownership of highly valued land to the Crown.
“Instead, the only remaining tool to achieve that outcome is buying out a leaseholder’s interests. But there is no
commitment to funding that. Without dedicated funding being part of the new policy settings, we are left with a pretty
empty tool box.
“The discussion paper is otherwise a fair and honest appraisal of the inadequacies of the present set-up for managing
the Crown’s interests in the High Country. Clearly the Government is looking for a fix and is looking to retain a
long-term interest in the land.
“The proposed continuing reliance on a discretionary consenting process administered by the Commissioner of Crown Lands
as a sustainability driver is also problematic. The report does propose some greater degree of accountability for the
Commissioner but does not consider alternative approaches.
“The Commissioner is the most unaccountable civil servant in the country and past Commissioners have made decisions that
are questionable in law. Approving massive dairy conversions in the Mackenzie Basin are a case in point.
“It may be that the Commissioner’s role should be axed altogether and a new approach adopted that would achieve improved
accountability and better alignment with RMA processes.
“This paper needs be read alongside LINZ’s recently released review of its regulatory systems. That review is a
remarkably candid analysis of historical shortcomings in managing Crown pastoral leases. LINZ is clearly determined to
lift its game with new leadership and frank self-evaluation.
“So notwithstanding our concerns about some of the content in today’s report, EDS remains supportive of LINZ and its
Minister as they work to improve outcomes in the High Country.
“We will be seeking a meeting with the Minister of Finance to discuss how a dedicated acquisition fund could be created
to replace tenure review. That is the key missing link in the new regime.
“We will be carefully reviewing the report and will make a substantive submission by the closing date of 12 April,” Mr
Environmental Defence Society
EDS is a not-for-profit environmental organisation committed to improving environmental outcomes within New Zealand.
The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) is a professionally run, independent environmental group that was established in
1971. It brings together the disciplines of science, planning, landscape and the law.
MORE ABOUT EDS
It operates as a think-tank, providing thought leadership on key environmental issues as well as representing the
environment before councils and the courts.
EDS is located at the collaborative and business aware end of the environmental movement, seeking constructive
engagement with all sectors, to achieve good environmental and economic outcomes for all New Zealanders. It has
It also plays an education role, helping business, councils, community groups and iwi to better understand best
practice resource management. EDS runs national and regional conferences and seminars on topical issues.
EDS is a registered charity and donations to it are tax-deductible.