Otago Daily Times

Farmer fears for liveli­hood amid ten­ure re­view

CEN­TRAL OTAGO

- MARK PRICE mark.price@odt.co.nz Travel

CHARLES Innes looks too rugged to be a man who can­not sleep at night for worry.

How­ever, he ad­mits he does, and says he some­times re­sorts to a lit­tle home brew to solve the prob­lem.

With no tourists us­ing his back­packer ac­com­mo­da­tion, a pre­dicted 26% drop in av­er­age farm prof­its be­fore tax on sheep and beef farms this sea­son and chil­dren to ed­u­cate at board­ing school, Mr Innes has plenty of ma­te­rial for wor­ry­ing.

He ex­pected com­plet­ing the ten­ure re­view process could help fi­nan­cially, although it might not save the farm.

The Innes fam­ily have held the 12,300ha of Dun­stan Downs Crown pas­toral lease­hold land, neigh­bour­ing the Lindis Pass, for 101 years.

It first en­tered the re­view process 20 years ago, and the fam­ily hopes it will be com­pleted next year.

If a ‘‘pre­lim­i­nary pro­posal’’ is ac­cepted, the farm will be­come 2815ha of free­hold land, with graz­ing con­ces­sions over a sim­i­lar amount, but run­ning out over the next 15 years.

It will con­sist of part of what Mr Innes refers to as the front coun­try along State High­way 8, in­clud­ing a thin sliver of green ris­ing steeply to brown hill­sides.

The back­coun­try is a mag­nif­i­cent spread of tus­sock and scree slopes — in­clud­ing the head­wa­ters of the Dun­stan River — where Mr Innes sends his sheep for sum­mer graz­ing.

That would be­come pub­lic con­ser­va­tion land, open to any­one keen for a long walk or cy­cle ride.

The fam­ily en­tered the process will­ing to give up a big chunk of the prop­erty’s Crown pas­toral lease land in re­turn for the free­hold land and the prom­ise of be­ing in­de­pen­dent.

Asked why it had taken so long to get to this point, Mr Innes said it was be­cause of ‘‘bu­reau­cratic non­sense — the other side not get­ting what they want’’.

The ‘‘other side’’ was the con­ser­va­tion lobby, mem­bers of which flew over the farm ear­lier this week as­sess­ing the land’s eco­log­i­cal val­ues.

‘‘We’re giv­ing away a mas­sive amount of land,’’ Mr Innes said. ‘‘We’ve bent over back­wards. ‘‘Yet, there’s no give on the other side.

‘‘Just take, take, take.’’

The fam­ily pulled out of the process once, hav­ing been ‘‘in­sulted’’ by an ini­tial pro­posal.

The cur­rent pro­posal, now out for pub­lic sub­mis­sions, would leave the fam­ily with a prop­erty that would be hard to farm eco­nom­i­cally, be­cause of the loss of sum­mer graz­ing land and the re­duc­tion in sheep num­bers.

There was the prospect of cash for the lost in­come and for the prop­erty im­prove­ments given up, although Mr Innes said it was in­cor­rect to sug­gest farm­ers were paid out for the land it­self.

Asked about what plans the fam­ily had after ten­ure re­view, Mr Innes said, ‘‘what plan do you want to hear?’’

‘‘There’s been so many plans. ‘‘What can I af­ford to do, that is the big thing.’’

 ?? PHO­TOS: MARK PRICE ?? Wor­ried . . . Dun­stan Downs co­owner Charles Innes.
PHO­TOS: MARK PRICE Wor­ried . . . Dun­stan Downs co­owner Charles Innes.
 ??  ?? High coun­try . . . The Lindis Pass, with part of Dun­stan Downs on the left.
High coun­try . . . The Lindis Pass, with part of Dun­stan Downs on the left.
 ??  ?? Tus­sock land . . . Lindis Pass Con­ser­va­tion Group mem­ber Anne Steven and Otago Con­ser­va­tion Board mem­ber Rob War­dle in­spect Dun­stan Downs.
Tus­sock land . . . Lindis Pass Con­ser­va­tion Group mem­ber Anne Steven and Otago Con­ser­va­tion Board mem­ber Rob War­dle in­spect Dun­stan Downs.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand