Ruataniwha wrangling to continue?

Conservation groups are celebrating the Supreme Court ruling that the Conservation Minister’s attempt to swap protected conservation land for farmland to make way for the Ruataniwha dam reservoir was not legally allowed, but the Government is threatening to change the law.  That hasn’t gone down well.

RNZ:  Ruataniwha dam: law-change plan branded arrogant

The government is arrogant if it thinks it can change the law to push through the Ruataniwha dam project, the Labour Party says.

Environment Minister Maggie Barry said the government would now consider legislating to ensure such land swaps could go ahead.

She said the government had long believed that under the conservation act it was allowed to swap a low value piece of conservation land for a piece of land with higher conservation values.

Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said the conservation land being swapped for the irrigation scheme was not low quality.

“It’s a beautiful pristine area, looking down the valley, so giving that up for another piece of land … everybody knows it’s really swapping land so this dam could go ahead.”

Ms Whaitiri said it would be arrogant for the government to legislate to overturn the court’s ruling.

Green Party conservation spokesperson Mojo Mathers said the government wanted to destroy protected conservation land for its private developer mates.

She said it should just respect the court’s decision.

Threatening to legislate away a Supreme Court ruling does seem like arrogance – not a good thing to show in an election campaign.

Flooding conservation land to enable increased farm production is highly questionable with or without enabling legislation given clear signs production has reached unsustainable levels and natural waterways have been badly damaged as a result.

Leave a comment


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  7th July 2017

    I don’t see why it is arrogant to enable land swaps. Just because the court ruled the law doesn’t allow it has no bearing on whether it should allow it.

    • Whether it is arrogant or not the appearance of more arrogance is high risk in a precariously poised election.

  2. It plays into Green campaign hands.

  3. NOEL

     /  7th July 2017

    Didn’t know DOC had expertise to run a profitable farm.

  4. Ray

     /  7th July 2017

    Obviously a very fine point of law with the Supreme Court reversing the High Court decision, obviously the law needs tidying up.
    Typical of the Greens (10% vote) thinking that their view out weighs Nation (48%) and suggesting arrogance, aren’t they the crew who say the law shouldn’t apply to them when they break it protesting!

  5. Patzcuaro

     /  7th July 2017

    If they are trying to swap conservation land for farmland how can you be swapping lower value conservation for higher value conservation land?

    • Gezza

       /  7th July 2017

      [Conservation Minister Barry] said DOC held conservation values paramount and was experienced in assessing land swaps with the aim of keeping varied ecosystems and habitats.

      Ms Barry said the 170ha of farmland the department would have received had important wetland and forest habitat, and the Director General of Conservation believed the swap was a good conservation outcome.


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