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January 2022 Issue
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Southland station to become DOC land

The Umbrella Mountains are on the western boundary of Hukarere Station. Photo: Danilo Hegg

New conservation land will be added to the DOC estate in Otago after a recent tenure review decision.

In total, 1648ha of Hukarere Station will become conservation land and a scenic reserve. The bulk of the farm (5529ha) will be freeholded, although 394ha is subject to conservation covenants to protect gullies with remnant beech forest and regenerating native shrublands.

The land is on the Black Umbrella Range, near Piano Flat, and is mostly high country farmland, rising to 1156m on the range’s summit ridge. It includes high country tussock, low alpine shrubland and patches of beech forest. There will be public access to the conservation land via easements over the freehold land. 

The leaseholders have also been granted funds under the Government’s One Billion Trees Programme to establish native plants on 500ha of the freehold land.

It may be one of the last settlements under tenure review, as the government is ending the system where Crown pastoral leases are split into conservation and freehold land. 

The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill has gone through its second reading in parliament and is still under consideration. In the meantime, 23 properties are still going through tenure review and will continue to be assessed until the bill becomes law.

Between 1991 and 2017, 436,000ha of Crown land has been freeholded and 371,842ha has become conservation land via tenure review. But the process has been controversial, with some farmers making windfall profits and instances of overseas billionaires buying up picturesque farms.