The National Panel on a site visit on the West Coast
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


An independent assessment of stewardship land on the West Coast has delivered recommendations for revised land classifications, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says.

Date:  27 May 2022 Source:  Office of the Minister of Conservation

Stewardship land is the term given for land that was allocated to DOC when it was formed in 1987, but had yet to be given a specific land classification. Panels were set up last year to reclassify stewardship land to ensure appropriate layers of protection for future generations to enjoy.

Public notification will open next week on those recommendations.

“We made a promise to look at all of our stewardship land. Reclassification ensures land is being protected for its natural, cultural and heritage values, and is secured for the future, proving economic, social and recreational opportunities,” Kiri Allan said.

“It is important to strike the balance in getting these land classifications right, so that we protect land with conservation and cultural value and unlock land with neither, making it available for other productive purposes.

“The West Coast is the first region in Aotearoa New Zealand to go through this process, with the National Panel recommendations including reclassifying approximately 77,000 hectares as National Park, 347,000 hectares as Conservation Park and 182,000 hectares as Historic Reserve.

“Any existing rights on stewardship land, such as concessions for tourism activities or grazing licences, can continue for the duration of the concession regardless of whether that parcel of land is reclassified. This is in recognition of the contractual rights of concessionaires."

Access for the gathering of pounamu under the Ngāi Tahu (Pounamu Vesting) Act will also be unaffected. 

National park status provides the maximum level of protection, with land having to be maintained in its natural state. Conservation park is primarily for the protection of its natural and historic resources. Historic reserves protect historic and cultural sites as well as native flora and fauna. Recreational reserves are areas of open space that provide places suitable for recreation and sporting activities and the physical welfare and enjoyment of the public.

“The panels have done an outstanding job of assessing each parcel of land and conducting site visits in the region – a region with some of this country’s most outstanding ecological, historical, cultural and recreation values,” Kiri Allan said.

“A Ngāi Tahu panel was also established to assess the land and has provided immeasurable guidance and insights to the process.

“The next stage, public notification, will inform any final decisions on the draft recommendations,” Kiri Allan said.

Further assessments will be made to deliver recommendations for three remaining areas (approximately 140,000 ha) of land on the West Coast, primarily in South Westland.

The notification period will begin on Monday 30 May through the DOC website and will be open for 40 working days closing at 5 pm on 26 July.

The stewardship land reclassification process in the South Island will continue over the coming months, with further areas for assessment to be announced in due course.

National Panel proposed recommendations table

The table below outlines the different land classifications being recommended by the National Panel for the West Coast region.

National Panel proposed recommendations
National panel recommendation Sum of GIS area (ha) Percentage
Conservation Park 347,748 54%
Historic Reserve 182,300 28.31%
National Park 77,440 12.02%
Scenic Reserve 11,965 1.86%
Stewardship 7,927 1.23%
Ecological Area 7,261 1.13%
Local Purpose (River Conservation) Reserve 4,601 0.71%
Wildlife Management Area 3,808 0.59%
Local Purpose (Ngāi Tahu) Reserve 505 0.08%
Recreation Reserve 262 0.04%
Local Purpose (Other) Reserve 127 0.02%
Disposal 66 0.01%
Government Purpose (Government Buildings) Reserve 3 0.00%
Amenity Area 2 0.00%
Grand Total 644,016 100.00% 

Summary of current permissions on stewardship land on the West Coast

Summary of current permissions on stewardship land on the West Coast
Permission type Number of permissions Permission duration
Access arrangement 125 Linked to permit under Crown Minerals Act, timeframe varies
Grazing concession 175 Up to 10 years
Easement concession 56 Up to 30 years in most cases, may be up to 60 years
Beehive concession 4 Up to 10 years
Structure concession 66 Up to 30 years
Gravel extraction concession 46 Up to 10 years
Guiding concession 4 Up to 10 years
Aircraft concession 4 Up to 10 years
Telecommunications sites 38 Up to 10 years
Accommodation concession 46 Up to 30 years, may be up to 60 years
Storage concession 1 Up to 30 years
Wild animal control 10 Up to 10 years
Total 575  


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