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


Public hearings about proposed changes to stewardship land classification on the West Coast will be held next week in person and online.

Date:  08 September 2022

An independent National Panel of technical experts and a Ngāi Tahu appointed Mana Whenua Panel have assessed 504 parcels of stewardship land for its conservation, recreation and cultural values and made recommendations on classifications to give it the appropriate level of protection.

DOC received 660 individual submissions and 5,980 pro forma submissions on the proposals by the deadline of 23 August 2022.

“A hearing is the next step in the process. We had 220 individuals and organisations indicate they wanted to be heard. This is now their opportunity to talk to the Hearing Panel in depth about their submissions,” says DOC Operations Director Karl Beckert.

In person hearings will be held on:

  • Monday 12 September, South Westland
  • Tuesday 13 September, Hokitika
  • Wednesday 14 September, Hokitika
  • Thursday 15 September, Hokitika (morning)
  • Thursday 15 September, Westport (afternoon)
  • Friday 16 September, Westport

Online hearings will be held on:

  • Tuesday 13 September
  • Monday 19 September – Wednesday 21 September

The hearing panel members are Reginald Proffit, Arna Litchfield, Neil Clifton, Katharine Watson, Francois Tumahai and Paul Madgwick.

Reginald Proffit will chair the panel. Arna Litchfield will represent the Director-General of Conservation.

“The information received through the hearings will be used to inform the National and Mana Whenua Panels’ final recommendations and DOC’s advice to the Minister of Conservation,” says Karl Beckert.

The Minister of Conservation will make the final decisions on the recommendations and advice.

Background information

Hearing location, dates and times can be found here: Help us reclassify stewardship land on the West Coast.

About the national panels

The national panels, appointed by the Minister of Conservation, comprise technical experts with capability in ecology, earth sciences, landscape, recreation, heritage and mātauranga Māori.

A Ngāi Tahu appointed Mana Whenua Panel was established to provide information on mahika kai (natural resources practices), mātauranga Māori (knowledge) and Ngāi Tahu interests in relation to stewardship land within its takiwā. The Mana Whenua Panel has worked alongside the National Panel to make recommendations on revised land classifications for stewardship land areas.

More information about the National and Mana Whenua Panels can be found here: Stewardship land reclassification – national panels

About stewardship land

Stewardship land is the term given to land allocated to DOC when it was formed in 1987, which was deemed to have conservation value, but had not been given a specific land classification.

Stewardship areas are ‘conservation areas’ under the Conservation Act which are managed to protect the natural and historic values present on the land.

Stewardship areas do not have to be reclassified for their conservation values to be managed and protected.

Stewardship areas can be disposed of, exchanged or reclassified to add greater protection that reflects the conservation values present.

Around one third of the conservation land managed by DOC is categorised as stewardship land, approximately 2,740,000 ha – 9% of New Zealand.


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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