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Protecting our precious places

Council-held land: QEII covenants

Councils, communities and QEII: Working together to protect our special areas

QEII National Trust was established in 1977 to encourage and promote the protection and enhancement of open space.

With a core activity of securing long term protection of natural and cultural features, usually by the legal mechanism of an open space covenant, QEII acts as a perpetual trustee to ensure the values remain protected forever.

Most covenants protect special areas on private land. However, QEII covenants or formal agreements are also options councils can use to protect special features on land held by them.

Benefits for councils and their communities are the independence QEII offers and the extra layer of protection provided when QEII and councils work together.

There are 58 registered and approved QEII covenants and formal agreements protecting nearly 2,500ha of council-held land in perpetuity for the people of New Zealand.

Council covenants include the 841ha Atiu Creek Regional Park on the Kaipara Harbour. Pierre and Jackie Chatelanat gifted this farm in an extraordinary gesture of generosity to the Auckland Regional Council in 2005 so that future generations may enjoy unspoilt access to the open space.

At the other end of the scale, a 0.1ha landscape protection agreement protects the habitat of the threatened grass Simplicia laxa (Nationally Critical) in Otago. Such agreements are used where the land does not have title, for example, roadside areas.

David Bellamy at Three Streams Reserve Photo: Graeme Platt

Above: Three Streams Reserve in Albany is protected by a QEII covenant. In September 2009, British botanist and conservationist Professor David Bellamy planted a kauri in the reserve with the help of local school students.

Here they admire their work along with Dan Godoy, QEII Regional Representative. Photo: Graeme Platt

North Shore City: Volunteers contribute to managing community assets

The North Shore City Council has two public assets protected in perpetuity with open space covenants: the 3.7ha Three Streams Reserve in Albany and the 20.5ha Kauri Point Centennial Park in Birkenhead.

Three Streams was gifted to QEII in 1991 by long-time conservationist John Hogan. Over the past 40 years, John has enhanced the natural values of the area by removing pine trees and planting 4,000 native trees including 600 kauri.

In 2005, ownership of Three Streams passed to the council which manages this special natural area with the help of community volunteers.

On a prominent headland on the Waitemata Harbour, Kauri Point Centennial Park has numerous walking tracks through regenerating pohutukawa, lancewood, coprosma and kauri forest and a raupo and swamp maire wetland to Kendall Bay.

Kauri Point Centennial Park

Above: Looking across to Kauri Point from Kendall Bay. The Onewa Pa site on the point is the only remaining example of a fortified pa on Waitemata Harbour. Photo: Dan Godoy

The Kauri Point Centennial Park and Chatswood Reserve Management Committee recently won the North Shore City Council Civic Award - Heritage & Environment for their contributions to the upkeep of the park over the past 20 years.

David Roberts from the committee says the work done by local volunteers is two-fold.

‘First of all, there’s the physical work,’ he explains. ‘A group devotes a couple of hours a week to maintaining the tracks and drains and clearing weeds.

'Then there’s the information flow as we act as a watch-dog for the park. This includes writing submissions to the council and QEII and letting residents know what’s happening.’

Dan Godoy, QEII Regional Representative, says QEII has had a long working relationship with the committee and recognises the pivotal role it has played in the success of the park.

‘We are impressed with the group’s vision for the park’s future and the commitment made to the health and long term sustainability of this beautiful open space,’ he says.

New Plymouth: Public access to coastal walkway at Oakura assured

The first primary coastal forest covenants in Taranaki were put in place in April 2009 by Norton and Coral Moller and New Plymouth District Council at Oakura.

The 1.2ha Moller Escarpment covenant is a public walkway with coastal species including karaka, kawakawa, taupata, flax and pohutukawa providing a habitat for tui, kereru and fantails.

The council maintains the walkway and Oakura School is involved in restoring the coastal strip. The Mollers also have a 4ha covenant protecting primary forest on their farm.

‘We have always felt the cliff face should be protected as keeping the area as a natural bush landscape makes it better for everyone,’ says Norton.

‘We gave the land to the council as a reserve in 1989 and all concerned felt it was the right solution to protect it with a QEII covenant in perpetuity.’

Mark Bruhn, Manager Parks at the council, explains this situation was unique as the land was held and managed by the council as a reserve for scenic purposes under the Reserves Act 1977.

‘While there did not appear to be any additional benefit from placing a QEII covenant on the reserve, the council wanted to acknowledge the wishes of the Moller family,’ he says.

‘The covenant process allowed the council to incorporate additional special conditions including the future provision of suitable walking tracks through the reserve.’

Moller Escarpment

Above: With the Moller Escarpment covenants in place, public access to the spectacular Taranaki coastline at Oakura is assured. Photo: Neil Phillips

‘We do thank the New Plymouth Council for its forward thinking in protecting the escarpment for future generations,’ says Norton Moller.

Marlborough: Partners restore beech and totara treeland

The 3.4ha Koromiko Forest Reserve south of Picton was a deer park until 1997.

The Marlborough District Council took over management of the reserve in 2002 and protected it with a QEII covenant in 2006.

Koromiko School students have been involved in revegetating the treeland with eco-sourced plants since 2003 and other replanting has been undertaken by contractors and community volunteers with funding from Honda TreeFund.

Until a recent discovery on a property neighbouring Koromiko Forest owned by Russell and Marian Gent, white maire Nestegis lanceolata was thought to have disappeared from the region.

As part of the Tasman Environmental Trust’s rare plants programme, sixty white maire seedlings were planted in the covenant in 2008 from seeds collected from the Gents’ farm and propagated by Martin Conway, a former QEII Regional Representative.

Robin Dunn from the council says QEII and the council have a similar focus on protecting natural values.

‘Our partnership with a national body enables a higher level of protection to be provided.

'We value having the endorsement by QEII that the values are worth protecting.

'A management plan has been put in place for the reserve and we will encourage public access once the vegetation has recovered.’

Tom Stein, QEII Marlborough Regional Representative, adds that covenants on council-held land are an effective way of ensuring public space is protected.

‘Not all council land is set up as a reserve for native biodiversity,’ he explains. ‘Covenanting makes sure stock are kept out which helps the regeneration.

'Priorities for protecting our biodiversity may change within councils but QEII covenants ensure values remain intact.’

Koromiko School students

Above: Koromiko School students are helping to restore the covenant. Photo: Marlborough District Council

Koromiko Forest Reserve revegetation

Above: Over 15,000 native trees and shrubs have now been planted in Koromiko Forest Reserve. Photo: Tom Stein

Download QEII covenants on council-held land (PDF 132KB)

Open SpaceTM
Magazine No. 77, November 2009 © QEII National Trust

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