EDS calls for donations to support 2 key areas of New Zealand: Mackenzie Country & Te Mata Peak

EDS calls for donations to support 2 key areas of New Zealand: Mackenzie Country & Te Mata Peak

2018 will see big battles over some of our country’s most valued places. A new government offers fresh opportunities for reform. And with your help, EDS will continue to be at the forefront of positive action for our environment.

A focus for EDS is protecting the scenery and ecology that makes New Zealand unique in the world. It’s tough and challenging work that embraces education, litigation and policy development, and it’s having a big effect, on land and sea.

All of this work needs resources so we can hire expert, highly qualified staff. We’ve received great support in the past. But this is a new year with fresh cases to win, bad developments to stop and good reforms to lock in. So we are reaching out to you for to help.

In 2017 we made good gains, against the odds:

  • new rules better protect the Mackenzie Basin (but the job’s not all done)
  • a High Court win widened the scope of the law on outstanding landscapes
  • we published a seminal report on biobanking and offsetting
  • we advanced the case for positive resource management reform
  • freshwater reforms gained momentum (but there’s more to do)
  • the fishing sector came under increasing scrutiny
  • we ran two big conferences on environment and climate change.

It was a successful year for EDS.

But there are some big challenges coming up in 2018 and I want to highlight two of them:

The Mackenzie Country

As you know, the Mackenzie Country with its tussock grasslands is a unique and outstanding landscape. In spite of tightening regulations, it remains under enormous development pressures. The latest is a 15,000 cow dairy development proposed on Simons Pass Station, largely leasehold land under tenure review.

The leaseholder, Christchurch businessman Murray Valentine, described his intentions this way in a recent newsroom story:

And, yes, we will destroy some native plants and some native lizards and stuff. And, yeah, the habitat of birds will have to shift to other places. And I don’t disagree with anyone who says that.

EDS says “no way!” to that proposition, and argues that if you wanted to find a place least suited to intensive dairy development, the dryland moraine of the upper Mackenzie Basin would be it. If the RMA worked, and if agencies such as LINZ, the Mackenzie District Council and Environment Canterbury did their jobs properly, this proposition would not have got so far towards fruition.

So EDS will be putting real effort into the Mackenzie Basin this year. The work programme includes:

  • pushing government hard to review the entire tenure review process
  • supporting the Mackenzie Country Trust
  • critiquing the soon to be released Mackenzie Review, which was commissioned by government agencies at our request
  • presenting ecological and landscape evidence on the Mackenzie District Council’s district plan review
  • investigating the consents still required for large-scale dairy conversion at Simons Pass Station and litigating where necessary to try to stop it
  • standing behind our tenure review submissions on Simons Pass and Ferintosh and going to the High Court if LINZ comes up with unacceptable outcomes.

Te Mata Peak

This ongoing controversy exemplifies the challenges in getting councils to protect their landscapes.

In this case, Hastings District Council decided that development of a new walking track up the eastern slopes of Te Mata Peak had effects that were ‘less than minor”. This decision was made in spite of Te Mata Peak being listed in the Council’s plan as an outstanding landscape of enormous cultural signifcance to iwi. Inexplicably, it approved the application from Craggy Range Vineyard on a non-notified basis.

This was unlawful. We wrote to both the Council and Craggy Range saying so, and threatened judicial review. Importantly, local iwi denounced the development in no uncertain terms.

The result was that Craggy Range wrote to EDS and agreed to remove the track. But now there are parties trying to unravel that agreement.

 We are continuing to monitor the situation at Te Mata and will take Court action if there’s any reneging on the undertaking to remove the track.

It should be recorded, though, that we applaud the vineyard’s commitment to restore the land, which we think is principled and right.

Those are just two examples of the challenges we face in protecting New Zealand’s outstanding landscapes.

During this year EDS will continue to make submissions on all regional policy statements in New Zealand that target landscape and ecology. We are currently running appeals in the Environment Court and also on important district plans such as Thames-Coromandel. New Zealand’s outstanding scenery is under persistent threat, and we need to be vigilant and able to intervene to stop bad stuff happening.

While landscape is a special focus, we plan other actions for the environment in 2018.

We will run the big EDS Conference in early August. That will scrutinise the new government’s proposed environmental reforms and lend support where needed. In October we have our Climate Change Conference, which will address fresh policy initiatives from the government that at long last show New Zealand is taking that existential threat seriously.

In April we will be releasing a major new book that critically evaluates fisheries management and reinforces the need for a public inquiry into the sector.  We’ll be pushing for implementation of the Hauraki Gulf plan and continuing our support of the Kermadec Oceans Sanctuary through the courts, if necessary. We have already suggested short-term amendments to the Resource Management Act to roll back many of last year’s negative changes and will also continue to push the case for a longer-term, first-principles reform of the wider resource management system, through our RM Reform project.

In short, we have a comprehensive and carefully thought-through work plan for 2018.

So please help us! Your donation will enable us to reinforce current efforts to save many highly valued parts of our country and strongly pursue tangible, vital reform opportunities throughout the coming year.

Donations to EDS are tax deductible. You can support EDS in any of these ways:

1. Go online here and donate with your credit card via our secure online system, indicating which case (or project) you wish to support.

2. Complete this donation form and return it to us with your donation/credit card details.

3. Call us at the EDS office with your credit card details. (09) 302 2972.

4. Make a one-off donation or set up a regular donation via your bank. Our bank details are in the donation form. Complete the donation form and return it to us if you would like to receive a tax receipt.

Together, we WILL make a difference!

Last updated at 4:05PM on February 23, 2018