Media Statement: Important step forward for future of Mackenzie Country

EDS is delighted to see progress in implementing the Mackenzie Agreement through the launch of the Mackenzie Country Trust, following a long and sometimes fraught collaborative process between 2010 and 2013.

At the most recent meeting of the Forum at the end of October 2015 the attendees formed a working group to establish the long-awaited Trust. The Trust was launched this weekend in Tekapo by Hon Nicky Wagner, Associate Minister of Conservation.

“It’s good to see the progress and the launch of a Trust with such high calibre trustees,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“The Mackenzie Country Trust has the potential to be a real game-changer in the Basin, where private and public interests have long clashed.

“New models of conservation in New Zealand are proposed including payments for ecosystem services programmes and a stronger focus on user pays approaches. The Trust aims to establish a Drylands Park – the first of its kind in New Zealand and a network of privately protected areas to safeguard the unique values of the Basin. The outcomes will have substantial benefits for the environment and for tourism.

“EDS congratulates the new trustees: Paddy Boyd, Claire Barlow, Julia McKenzie, Peter Wilson, Mike Neilson, David Stone and Marie Brown (also of the EDS team).

“We will do our best to support the trust in its endeavours and look forward - when a business and strategic plan are finalised - to the government making good on its original agreement to provide substantial and sustained funding.

“We still have concerns about the current development pressures in the Basin and the continuing loss of important ecological and landscape values. We will therefore be pursuing other avenues to get better outcomes, including unsatisfactory tenure review processes, investigating public purchase of lands and looking as a last resort at litigation.

“Time is of the essence as a lot has been lost in the past few years. Much of what is left is precious and we are keen to see it reliably protected,” Mr Taylor concluded.

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Last updated at 10:04AM on February 22, 2016