Edmonds Judd

Crown Pastoral Land Reform Act 2022

Tenure review has ended

In the Autumn 2019 (No 29) issue of Rural eSpeaking, we reported that the Land Information Minister had announced that tenure review of Crown pastoral land under the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 (CPLA) would end. On 17 May 2022, the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Act 2022 (CPLRA) became law. In this article, we outline what is included in the new legislation, what will continue to be dealt with under the old Act, and how the Crown proposes managing this land.

In February 2019, the then Minister of Land Information, the Hon Eugenie Sage, introduced a discussion document setting out proposals as to how Crown pastoral land could be managed following the end of tenure review. Feedback was sought on the implications of ending the tenure review, the outcomes the Crown was seeking for Crown pastoral land and what changes could be made to the Crown Pastoral Land Regulatory System to achieve those outcomes.

The passing of the CPLRA on 17 May 2022 (the Commencement Date) is a result of both the resolution to end tenure review, and the decisions made following the circulation of the discussion document and the feedback received. Tenure review ended on the Commencement Date (except for some exemptions as set out in column 2) with most of the rest of the CPLRA coming into effect on 17 November 2022.

Aspects continuing under the old legislation

Tenure review ended on the date the bill became law (17 May 2022) except where[1]:

  • A substantive proposal had been accepted under Section 60 of the CPLA before the Commencement Date notwithstanding that that proposal is still being processed by the Commissioner, and
  • A substantive proposal had been put to a holder before the Commencement Date and where the holder had not accepted it before the Commencement Date but the three-month period during which they had to accept the proposal had not expired before the Commencement Date.

All other tenure reviews are discontinued, and the Commissioner of Crown Lands is not to take any further actions to progress any of those reviews.

Other exceptions

There were certain other matters that, if they were in progress under the CPLA or the Land Act 1948, will continue to be dealt with notwithstanding the passing of the CPLRA. These are[2]:

  • Consents to undertake pastoral activities
  • Consents to transfer leases
  • Exemptions from stock limitations or their variation or revocation
  • Recreation permits under Section 66A of the Land Act 1948, and
  • Easements.

These matters must be dealt with by the Commissioner as if the CPLRA had not been enacted.

How will the Crown manage this land?

With the ending of tenure review, how does the Crown propose to manage this land?

Tenure review was based on the proposition that it was better to end the leasehold regime with the Crown taking full and unencumbered ownership of this alpine land in exchange for allowing the leaseholder to purchase the freehold of parts of it.

The situation now is that the land will continue to be leasehold, that is, the Crown continues to own it; the leaseholders’ perpetually renewable leases will continue and therefore the leaseholders will have a legal estate akin to ownership. This situation does not, however, give leaseholders complete freedom as to how they use or deal with the land (subject to the usual Resource Management Act 1991 restraints) that freehold ownership would give them.

How does the Crown propose to fulfil the objectives of the CPLRA? These are[3]:

To provide for the administration of pastoral land in a way that seeks to achieve the following outcomes:

(a) Maintaining or enhancing inherent values across the Crown pastoral estate for present and future generations, while providing for ongoing pastoral faming of pastoral land:

(b) Supporting the Crown in its relationships with Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi:

(c) Enabling the Crown to get a fair return on its ownership interest in pastoral land.

Crown will be a more active landlord

The CPLRA intends to achieve these objectives in the ways that were foreshadowed in the discussion document. Basically, the existing regulatory regime is to be beefed up so that the Crown is a more active landlord in promoting the ecological, landscape, cultural heritage and scientific values of the land. Exactly what form that will take, however, is still uncertain. Much of the Act will not come into force until 17 November 2022, by which time the regulations and various standards should be enacted.

What is certain, however, is that farmers on Crown pastoral land are going to be more restricted in what they can do without needing to apply for consent. As always, when consents are required, the process is slow and costly, so there will be an economic impact on farmers.

[1] Crown Pastoral Land Reform Act 2022, Schedule 1, s2

[2]  Ibid, Schedule 1, s4

[3]  Ibid, s5

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