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Last modified: 05 Oct 2021 12:04pm

Toitū Te Whenua Chief Executive Gaye Searancke and Council Chief Executive David Ward doing an elbow bump after signing the MOU

A first-of-its-kind agreement has been made as part of efforts to better manage Crown pastoral leases in the Selwyn district, and protect the native plants and animals that call them home.

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand and the Selwyn District Council have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to share consent information on these unique landscapes. Toitū Te Whenua Chief Executive Gaye Searancke and Council Chief Executive David Ward signed the MOU yesterday (Thursday 30 September).

Toitū Te Whenua is responsible for managing 162 Crown pastoral leases that span 1.2 million hectares from Marlborough to Southland. Eight of the leases are in the Selwyn district and these cover 85,000 hectares, including areas of native biodiversity.

To carry out certain activities on the land, leaseholders need to apply for consent to Toitū Te Whenua, the council, or sometimes both.

Ms Searancke says both agencies saw an opportunity to work more closely together on consents to achieve better outcomes for the land, as well as make the process easier for leaseholders.

“We were already sharing consent information case-by-case, but this agreement will take that to the next level.

“We will now share information on consents relating to land-use change and development, such as cultivation, earthworks, tracking and removal of native vegetation.

“This will help us make more informed decisions when considering requests to change or develop these special landscapes.

“It will also make things simpler for leaseholders. We will look to make joint visits and to spot early on if leaseholders need to meet any other requirements to comply with their lease conditions, or local and national regulations.”

Ms Searancke says the MOU is the first of its kind for Crown pastoral leases in New Zealand.

“We’re really excited to see the benefits of this agreement unfold and are keen to explore opportunities with other local and regional councils.”

Mr Ward says the Council is looking forward to working more closely with Toitū Te Whenua and the leaseholders to ensure Selwyn’s indigenous fauna and flora are protected and well managed.

“We know that indigenous biodiversity in Aotearoa New Zealand is under threat, and this MOU is a small step in ensuring our district continues to protect its outstanding and unique natural environment.

“As a council we are required by law to ensure these special features can be enjoyed by future generations and continue to be part of our identity.”

For more information about Toitū Te Whenua’s role managing Crown pastoral land in the South Island high country visit the Toitū Te Whenua website.

For more information on the Selwyn District Council’s management of biodiversity in the district visit our biodiversity page.