Georgia correspondent Daryl Weinhoff is blogging about her study abroad experience in New Zealand this summer.
Unlike the United States' method of buying and selling land, New Zealanders mainly participate in a process called "tenure review" in order to gain ownership of land, which came about under the Land Act of 1948. This process involves a leaseholder of land coming to an agreement with the Crown in order to gain a "freehold title to some land capable of productive use," while still allotting a portion of that land for use by the Department of Conservation.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of the tenure review process for all parties involved. According to Brower, "the pressure for land reform came from all sides — farming, recreation, conservation, administration and government." The party that gains the most out of the tenure review process is the farmers. Once the farmers get a hold of the land from the crown, they have the option to subdivide the land or to sell it to other enterprises.
For example, a farmer we met named Simon sold the rights to use his land to the makers of Lord of the Rings. According to Brower, "once subdivided, this land sells for between $100,000 and $6 million per hectare." Simon notes that in order to be financially stable, he needs to sell one piece of land each year. There are also disadvantages to the farmers, because they still must follow all of the land laws. For example, the public must still be allowed to pass across their land to get to the conservation areas.
The public benefits from this tenure review process because they now have more environmental and recreational amenities, such as the Glendhu golf at Glendhu station. On the downside, in order for the government to subsidize the land, they use the pubic taxpayer money. Also, with the freeholders having the rights to the land, sometimes it proves difficult to reach the upper conservation areas. The last advantages are shared by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Although the government has lost $18.5 million so far, the DOC is able to get out of the leaseholds, while still gaining conservation areas.
Even though the potential disadvantages may appear to outweigh the advantages in terms of conservation, the pubic has benefited greatly. Due to the government relinquishing its leaseholds in order to provide more land to the Department of Conservation, the tourists and locals have many places to go hiking, camping and so forth.
Photos: Daryl Weinhoff