Get information about the land status and classification options for the proposal to review the land classification status of the St James Conservation Area.

What are the different statuses for public conservation land?

The status of public conservation is determined by the Act under which the land is held. There are three Acts being considered in this reclassification process so there are three broad categories of land status to consider.

The three Acts, and their corresponding land statuses are: National Parks Act 1980 (national park), Conservation Act 1987 (conservation area) and Reserves Act 1977 (reserve).  

What are the classification options?

Each Act mentioned above provides for sub-categories to be created. These sub-categories are referred to as “classes”. For example, land which has the status of a national park may also be given a sub-classification or “class” of wilderness area. Likewise, land held as a reserve under the Reserves Act can be further classified as a recreation reserve, historic reserve and so forth.

Some classes can be further subdivided into different types and/or overlays. For example, a Specially Protected Area under the Conservation Area status can be divided into seven different types, such as Conservation Park, Ecological Area or Amenity Area etc.

Overlays are another subdivision of certain classifications. Overlays do not change the underlying classification e.g. a national reserve is an overlay over a Reserve classification.

Understanding status and classification 

The following diagrams set out the status and classification options under the three different Acts being investigated for all or parts of the St James public conservation lands.

National Parks Act 1980

National Parks Act 1980.

This diagram shows that land given the status of National Park under the National Parks Act can be assigned a classification of:

i. a Specially Protected Area
ii. a Wilderness Area
iii. an Amenities Area.

It is noted that not all parts of a national park will be further classified beyond its status.

Conservation Act 1987

Conservation Act 1987.

This diagram shows that land held under the Conservation Act is given the status of Conservation Area. A Conservation Area can be further classified as Stewardship Land, Specially Protected Area or Marginal Strip.

Stewardship Land and Marginal Strips cannot be further classified.

Specially Protected Areas can be further classified into seven different types. The seven types are:

i. Conservation Park
ii. Ecological Area
iii. Sanctuary Area
iv. Wilderness Area
v. Watercourse Area
vi. Amenity Area
vii. Wildlife Management Area.

It is possible for these seven types to overlay each other as well, for example, a Conservation Park can have an overlay of a Wilderness Area.

Reserves Act 1977

Reserves Act 1977.

This diagram shows that land held under the Reserves Act is given the status of Reserve. A reserve can be classified into seven classes. Some of these classes can further classified into different types. The seven classes, with any further type options are:

i. Recreation
ii. Historic
iii. Scenic – with further types of either scenic natural or scenic modified
iv. Nature
v. Scientific
vi. Government Purpose – with a further type of the specific purpose of the reserve
vii. Local Purpose - with a further type of the specific purpose of the reserve.

It is possible for a reserve to be given an overlay as well as being assigned a class and type. The overlays under the Reserves Act 1977 are of National Reserve or Wilderness Area.

Comparison tables - purpose and objectives for management

Comparison tables (PDF, 148K) may help you to understand the similarities and differences between the land classifications that might apply to the St James land.

The tables are not a complete statement of the law but are intended as preliminary guidance. You may need to refer to the National Parks Act 1980, the Conservation Act 1987 or the Reserves Act 1977 to gain a deeper understanding of the constraints that affect each category.

Guidance for selecting an area for a certain status or classification

The following statutory documents provide guidance on the selection and classification of public conservation land.

Conservation General Policy 2005 provides guidance for the administration and management of all lands and waters held under the Conservation Act and the Reserves Act. 

Policy 6: 'Changes to Public Conservation Land' provides some guidance about what changes to a classification should seek to achieve (see 'Reclassification process' page for more details).

General Policy for National parks 2005, prepared by the New Zealand Conservation Authority, contains directions and guidance on how to implement the National Parks Act. It only affects land held under the National Parks Act.

Policy 6: 'New national parks, additions to national parks, boundaries and special areas within national parks' is relevant. It sets out how new national parks, or additions to existing national parks, should be selected. The Policy also describes the characteristics of specially protected areas, wilderness areas and amenities areas that can be created within National Parks.

Day to day management of areas of different status or classification

Day to day management of land which has been classified under one of the three Acts noted above is achieved through management documents.

Conservation management strategies, national park management plans and conservation management plans set out how DOC will manage particular areas of public conservation land.

Decisions about what can or cannot be done on land held under the three Acts are made under these management documents and the specific provisions of the National Parks Act, the Conservation Act or the Reserves Act.

Overlays under the Reserves Act 1977

It is possible for a reserve to be given an overlay as well as being assigned a class and type (where relevant). There are two possible overlays provided by the Reserves Act 1977.  

National reserve

The first is provided for by section 13. It allows a classified reserve to be given the status of a national reserve. This is achieved by Order in Council. This overlay can be applied to any class of reserve but, once applied, the overlay can only be removed by an Act of Parliament. Similarly, the classification of the reserve cannot be changed except by Act of Parliament (s.13(2)).  

Wilderness area

The second overlay is provided by section 47. Section 47 allows a reserve to be declared a wilderness area. The process requires an Order in Council to create (or revoke) the wilderness area. Section 47(4) tightly constrains the types of activity that can take place within a wilderness area (s.47(4) and (5)).

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