The High Country stations (Elfin Bay, Greenstone and Routeburn) at the head of Lake Wakatipu (see Map below) have been among the more contentious elements of the settlement, mainly because of questions over continued access, and the protection of conservation values. Ngāi Tahu believes the spiritual and cultural significance of the areas involved, together with their long-term farming and tourism potential, make the properties an important part of the tribe’s future, as they were in the past.
No private rights have been diminished. In turn, the tribe has regained a small but significant part of the vast high country it once owned. The three high country stations were bought on the open market by the Crown in the early 1990s at the request of Ngāi Tahu, and placed in the Land Bank for use in a settlement.
Ngāi Tahu will gain title to all three stations, at the market value as at the date of the Deed of Settlement. Although Ngāi Tahu are currently in possession of the High Country stations title has not yet passed. When we do receive title it is our intention to gift the mountain tops to the nation in recognition of their conservation values. The bulk of the remaining area of bush, mountain lands and the huge Maroroa Valley – comprising about 90% of the total area will be leased back in perpetuity to the Department of Conservation at a peppercorn rental for conservation purposes. Ngāi Tahu retains a right to veto any commercial activities on these lands.
The gifted mountain tops are known as Ka Whenua Roimata (The Lands of Tears), in recognition of the suffering of the Ngāi Tahu people. Ngāi Tahu has the right to farm all the freehold titles, which comprise the Greenstone and Caples Valleys, Elfin Bay, Greenstone and Routeburn flats and lake faces.
Ngāi Tahu has also covenanted to provide continued public access to Greenstone and Caples Valleys for tramping, fishing and hunting.
Q: What public access is available to these stations?
A: The titles will be covenanted for all time to provide that free foot access for tramping, hunting and fishing will be maintained in the Greenstone, Caples and Mararoa. This is greater legal protection for public access than currently exists.