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PR: Waitaki landowners call for help as land grab expands

Jamie McFadden

Just when you thought the coalition government had put the kibosh into the Significant Natural Areas (SNA) landgrab, things are about to get worse.

The Waitaki District Council are taking destruction of private property rights to a completely new level. In their draft district plan, a whopping half a million hectares or nearly 70% of the Waitaki District land area is now captured under various regulatory classifications. This includes 300 SNAs and several landscape and cultural property overlays.

Many property owners have multiple classifications and some have 100% of their property captured under what is known as regulatory takings. This includes both farm land and urban family homes.

Waitaki landowners have lodged a petition at opposing ‘property overlays’ in the draft Waitaki Draft District Plan. Groundswell NZ are supporting this community initiative and urge all Waitaki residents to sign the petition in support of their fellow residents impacted by this draconian council proposal.

However, it is not just Waitaki council causing major community upheaval. Timaru, West Coast, Gore, and Hutt City district councils are all pursuing a similar strategy - Groundswell NZ receive more complaints about Section 6 classifications than any other unworkable law.

While some councils have hit pause, others like those above are ploughing ahead in defiance of the governments call and landowners pleas for rational strategies and genuine consultation.

Groundswell NZ are issuing an urgent call for the government to suspend all Section 6 classifications, not just SNAs – coupled with a very clear message to councils that the legislation will be changed.


The classifications in the draft Waitaki District Plan include Outstanding Natural Landscapes, Outstanding Natural Features, Significant Natural Features, Rural Scenic Landscapes, Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), and Sites and Areas of Significance to Maori (SASMs).

All these classifications stem from the same piece of legislation as SNAs – Section 6 of the Resource Management Act (RMA). Section 6 has no respect for people, property owners and their rights and detrimentally impacts property values. It brings disruption and frustration into people’s lives with increased bureaucratic interference and compliance and penalizes those that have protected natural and cultural values on their land.

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