Friday, July 1, 2022

Hāwea farmer says council plan erodes rights

Neal Wallace
Policy recognising cultural and spiritual values being introduced by the Queenstown Lakes District Council could result in a loss of property rights, landowners say.

Lake Hāwea farmer Richard Burdon fears new policy by the Queenstown Lakes District Council will remove the rights of landowners. 

Policy recognising cultural and spiritual values being introduced by the Queenstown Lakes District Council could result in a loss of property rights, landowners say.

Known as wāhi tupuna, the policy imposes similar controls on land use as significant natural areas (SNAs) on land on the shores of Lake Hāwea near Wānaka.

Landowners would require resource consent or have to consult iwi before certain activities could proceed.

Richard Burdon from Lake Hāwea’s Glen Dene station says he went through tenure review in 2007, through which he retired an area of land known as The Neck, a site sacred to Ngai Tahu where their ancestors camped during expeditions to the West Coast.

Under tenure review pastoral lessees retire land of conservation and cultural value in exchange for being able to freehold more productive land, and that process subjected Glen Dene to extensive conservation and cultural studies.

Wāhi tupuna is part of the QLDC’s District Planning process, which Burdon says has once again subjected land to conservation and cultural studies, but he says its conclusions are inconsistent with those previous studies on the same areas.

Burdon says there was little consultation with landowners and those who did the work have since left the council.

“It is difficult to pin down what it means to landowners,” he says.

Complicating matters, the lake was raised 20m in 1958 for water storage as part of the Clutha River hydroelectric scheme which drowned many historically significant sites.

Burdon says it appears planners drew a line around the lake shoreline and concluded the enclosed area contained culturally and spiritually significant sites.

The wāhi tupuna will have a significant impact on Glen Dene as it includes flat and rolling paddocks and could restrict livestock management and tourism activities.

“All of those activities start to ramp up, irrigation consents, building consents and long term property rights.”

Council documents on Glen Dene identify trails and routes, a network of seasonal settlements and a place where food and natural materials were gathered.

It noted potential threats to water quality, from subdivision and development, planting exotic species, earthworks, roading, energy, utilities, and activities affecting the ridgeline and upper slopes.

Burdon says the list is much more extensive and diverse than identified by the tenure review studies.

“We feel they have taken liberties under the district plan to impose new controls that impact on our property rights and involve costs to our business and we have never been consulted.”

He says the QLDC has not made any attempt to work with them to resolve these issues which is why the issue will end up going to the Environment Court.

Tony Avery, the QLDC’s planning and development manager, says identifying wāhi tūpuna sites was not a random process but based on the cultural and spiritual values iwi want recognised in the plan.

The District Plan review process was publicly notified and all landowners with a wāhi tūpuna site were advised.

“A meeting between landowners and iwi was also offered and several landowners took up this opportunity.”

He says the Burdons subsequently submitted on the proposed District Plan and attended a hearing at which they were able to present their views.

“The Independent Hearing Panel then made a decision which the Burdons have appealed.

“The reasons behind the identification, values and meaning of each site have been explained in the plan itself and discussed with submitters and appellants. “The plan lists a variety of activities that require consent and consultation with iwi as part of any consideration.”

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