OVER THE FENCE | SUMMER 2020

OVER THE FENCE | SUMMER 2020

Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill – submissions open

Introduced to the House in July by the then Minister of Land Information, the Hon Eugenie Sage, the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill was drafted in early 2019 following consultation on enduring stewardship of Crown pastoral land. Submissions are now open for you to have your say on this proposed legislation.

The Bill records the following proposed key changes:

  • Ending the tenure review process which has resulted in former Crown pastoral land being freeholded and subject to more intensive farming
  • Moving towards an outcomes-based approach to encourage pastoral farming that is sustainable, and decision-making that better recognises impacts on inherent values
  • Providing a clearer, more transparent, statutory decision-making process, with stronger accountability mechanisms and more opportunity for public input, and
  • Supporting strong and enduring Crown-Māori relationships and recognising the relationship of tangata whenua with their ancestral lands.

The Bill classifies pastoral activities as permitted, discretionary or prohibited according to the impact of those activities on inherent land values. Discretionary activities require consent from the Commissioner of Crown Lands. Discretionary consent applications being processed if and when the Bill comes into force will be considered under the new system.

The Commissioner may decline discretionary pastoral activities or recreation permits if there is a reasonable alternative that has fewer adverse effects on inherent land values.

To have your say on this proposed legislation, submissions on the Bill are now open. Look here for more information.

Synlait settles Pōkeno land dispute

The lengthy legal battle around Synlait’s north Waikato development appears to be over. Synlait Milk has reported that settlement has been reached between it, New Zealand Industrial Park and Karl Ye over its land at Pōkeno.

The proceedings began shortly after Synlait bought a 28-hectare site in Pōkeno in February 2018. The contract was conditional upon the removal of the land covenants which restricted the use of the land to grazing, lifestyle farming or forestry.

In November 2018 the High Court removed the covenants and transferred the title to Synlait.

Synlait had already started construction of its new factory prior to the judgment — its second nutritional milk powder manufacturing site.

Karl Ye, the neighbouring landowner, appealed to the Court of Appeal and, in May 2019, the court ordered for the historic land covenants to be reinstated. This effectively prevented the site being used as a factory.

Synlait then appealed to the Supreme Court claiming the covenants were irrelevant as the land had been rezoned industrial and this was supported by the presence of the Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company in the area.

The Supreme Court heard the appeal in June 2020; after that, the parties negotiated a settlement. The settlement agreement details are confidential, however Synlait did note the settlement price was reasonable and not material to them.

Land covenants have the ability to bind not only the current owners, but also successor owners of property. The covenants had only been agreed to in August 1998 but were to last for a period of 200 years. It is important to seek legal advice to check the title to any land you wish to purchase including reviewing any registered interests on it particularly for the purpose for which you would like to use the land.

If Synlait had not negotiated a settlement and the Supreme Court had found against the company, its $250 million factory would be unusable. Unsurprisingly, there was a jump in the Synlait share price following the announcement.

Reminder: Trusts Act 2019 comes into effect on 30 January

The Trusts Act 2019 comes into effect on 30 January 2021. For the first time in 60 years, there will be major changes to existing trust law. The aim of this legislation is to create more transparency around trustee decisions, and to allow trusts to be run with more efficiency and clarity for all parties.

The Act imposes additional compliance duties for trustees including the requirement to provide basic trust information to each beneficiary, keeping core trust documentation, limiting the trustee exemption and indemnity clauses, and imposing mandatory and default duties on them.


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