Nature heritage procedure - land acquisition for national parks
IntroductionRead the New Zealand Conservation Authorities procedure after notification of Nature Heritage Fund acquisition of land for national park
Adopted: 12 October 2010
Reviewed and amended: 19 August 2019
The Authority resolved to adopt the following procedure for all notifications from the Nature Heritage Fund (NHF) Committee of acquisitions by the Fund where:
- The NHF has achieved the legal protection of the area, and
- The best protective designation of the area is likely to be as national park
Background considerations for the updated policy on NHF protection purchases to be assessed by NZCA as proposed additions to national parks.
- The NHF Committee is NOT determining what should go into a national park - that is the NZCA’s job. The NHF is simply determining if an unprotected natural area deserves permanent legal protection. The NHF may have a view on the future status of the area, as may the Minister of Conservation in approving the NHF protection actions. Both the NHF and the Minister can only recommend to the NZCA that it should consider the addition of the now protected area to an adjoining national park. The NHF does not have any legal standing to achieve a national park addition.
- There is some discussion about the breadth of a Section 7 investigation and the extent of NZCA consultation. This is set out in the General Policy for National Parks 2005, Policy 6(d). Consultation with tangata whenua is required as is consultation with the appropriate conservation board(s). The public, local authorities, and the local fish and game council should be consulted, but this is at the discretion of the NZCA. Essentially this decision comes down to a test of significance.
- The other question is about CMSs and NPMPs and whether an area must be mentioned in the plans to be considered for addition to a national park. Most of these statutory documents are not far sighted enough to identify desirable additions. This is either because they don’t know about the values of areas adjoining the park OR because if the adjoining area’s status is presently private land (most of the lands that the NHF deals with) then it is not legally possible to mention such privately-owned areas in a statutory document without it being seen as a land grab. Such a mention could also have the result of pushing up the price of protecting the private land involved. The absence of a mention in a CMS or NPMP should not preclude the addition of an area to a national park.
- The NZCA, in accordance with the National Parks Act 1980 (the Act), does seek to achieve a more ecologically sustainable and ecologically representative national park system in New Zealand. National park boundaries may be expanded to achieve this.
- The NZCA, acting under section 7 of the Act, has responsibility for determining if an area should be considered for addition to a national park. There is an assessment and consultation process defined in the Act before the Authority can recommend to the Minister of Conservation that an area should be added to a national park.
- When the NZCA receives advice from the NHF Committee that an area has been legally protected, together with information about the values of that area, the NZCA, in accordance with the procedure under Section 7 of the Act, will consult with the relevant conservation board and seek its advice on whether national park is the appropriate protective status for this area.
- The NZCA will consult with tangata whenua about the proposed national park addition to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
- The NZCA may also consult with local authorities and with the wider community if this is considered necessary to meet the requirements of Section 7 of the Act.
- If the national park addition is considered by the NZCA to meet the criteria of section 7 of the Act, the NZCA will advise the Director-General that it wishes to see the national park addition expedited.
- The NZCA may request that the intention to seek national park classification for an area should be included in a draft conservation management strategy (CMS) or national park management plan (NPMP). However, the absence of such a stated intent in the CMS or NPMP to add any such area meeting national park criteria should not preclude the addition of that area to the national park should all the requirements of section 7 of the Act have been met.
- The NZCA is to advise the Minister and the Nature Heritage Fund Committee of progress in the above actions.
- The NZCA will enquire after progress (utilising the status report recording system) every year until national park status is secured for any area recommended by the NZCA as a national park addition.
 This Policy only applies to section 7 of the National Parks Act 1980, because the NHF does not initiate or encourage the NZCA to initiate a Section 8 investigation for a new National Park. The NHF protection areas are all generally small areas that adjoin National Parks, and the process of adding those to the Park is a section 7 process carried out by NZCA.