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Protecting our precious places


What is an QEII open space covenant?

A QEII Open Space Covenant is a legal agreement between a landowner and the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust. The agreement is entered into voluntarily and binds current and all subsequent landowners in perpetuity. The covenant is registered on the title to the land.

What is in a covenant agreement document?

  • The exact location of the protected area
  • What is being protected and why
  • Agreement on what can and can’t be done on the land
  • The landowner’s and QEII’s responsibilities (e.g. fencing, pest control)

Are property rights affected?

Private property rights are not jeopardised by a covenant - the landowner retains ownership and management of the land.

The details of terms and conditions for a covenant are agreed between the landowner and QEII. Depending on the features the landowner wants to protect, it may be possible to negotiate special conditions  such as low impact grazing, access to water, limited harvesting of traditional resources or low impact recreation and tourism activities.

Is the whole property involved?

The covenant size and shape and terms of agreement will depend on what is being protected and the landowner’s aspirations. It can apply to the whole property but usually applies to defined parts of it.

What financial assistance is available?


Assistance for partial fencing costs may be available from local authorities. QEII may also make a contribution to the landowner’s costs.


QEII usually covers standard costs of survey to define the covenant area, but not in the case of subdivisions.


Many local authorities assess open space covenants as being non-rateable.

Practical management

Advice and assistance may be available from local authorities, contestable funds or other sources for such tasks as weed and pest control and restoration planting.

Ask your local QEII Representative about possible funding sources.

What can open space covenants protect?

Open Space covenants can cover a wide range of special features on private land that protect New Zealand’s unique natural and cultural heritage such as:
Landscapes I forest & bush remnants I wildlife habitats I streams I  wetlands I tussocklands I coastlines I  cultural sites archaeological sites  I  geological features.

What does monitoring involve?

A local QEII representative visits each covenant every second year to monitor its condition. The visit is a valuable opportunity to meet with the landowner, share pleasure in observing positive change, discuss any issues and work out together the best way to manage the covenant.

Does a covenant affect the property value?

Some landowners worry that covenanting land could devalue their property. In fact, protecting an area can enhance its value as it can

  • Aid the farm operation by fencing off a sensitive or hard-to- manage area.
  • Provide benefits like improved water quality and shelter and shade for stock in adjacent paddocks.
  • Beautify the property and encourage birdlife.
  • Satisfy a common resource consent condition for subdivision i.e. when protection is required as a consent condition.

What happens if the property is sold?

New owners are bound by the covenant agreement.

How do I covenant my special area?


Ask your local QEII representative to visit and discuss your proposal and explain the covenant process to you.


The QEII representative will evaluate your area against criteria including ecological and biodiversity values, naturalness, sustainability, wildlife, geological features, landscape values, cultural and heritage values. Practical considerations include management needs, threats to the site, your motivation and potential sources of funding.


The QEII Trust Board will consider the evaluation and approve the covenant if it meets the criteria. You will then be asked to sign the covenant agreement document. It may take up to two years from this approval stage to final registration.


If required the covenant area will have to be fenced next.


The covenant will then be formally registered on the title to your land with Land Information New Zealand. QEII will lodge all the necessary documentation. When registration is completed, QEII will notify Quotable Value (QV) and your local and regional councils.


Your privacy will be respected and additional information about your covenant will not be given without your permission.

Life membership

Following registration you will be offered free life membership of the Trust, entitling you to nominate and vote for two Board members and receive the QEII Open Space  magazine two times a year. Membership also entitles you to free or discounted entry to a number of affiliated organisations in the UK and elsewhere. More on membership at this link.


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