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


More than 6,600 people and organisations have made submissions on how they would like to see stewardship land reclassified on the West Cost of the South Island.

Date:  24 August 2022

By the closing deadline yesterday, the Department of Conservation (DOC) had received 660 individual and 5,980 pro forma submissions on proposals to reclassify 504 parcels of stewardship land on the West Coast.

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.

An independent national panel of technical experts and a Ngāi Tahu Mana Whenua Panel were established last year to assess the land for its conservation, recreation and cultural values and recommend the appropriate level of protection.

DOC Operations Director Karl Beckert says the large number of submissions speaks to the commitment people have to the future of the region.

"Working together with Ngāi Tahu on this process has been a privilege, and testament to a strong partnership approach.

“We are very grateful to all the individual West Coasters, environmental organisations, farmers, West Coast Councils, commercial interest groups and others who submitted.

“The West Coast is the first region where stewardship land is reclassified in this way, and the feedback received will help guide the process in other parts of the country,” says Karl Beckert.

DOC will hold hearings from 12 to 19 September on the West Coast and online. Submitters who indicated they wanted to be heard by the panels will be emailed to confirm a date and time for them to appear.

The information received through the submissions and the hearing will be used to inform the National and Mana Whenua Panels’ final recommendations and DOC’s advice to the Minister of Conservation, who will make a final decision on the land classifications.

Background information

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 at Stewardship land reclassification – National Panels.

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.


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