About the Accord
The High Country
Farms in the tussock
Perpetual leases
NZ Government policy
Land Tenure Review
Media releases
Resource files
Biodiversity Study
Visiting a farm
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The High Country of New Zealand


Photo copyright: Antonia Steeg

The wild beauty of the South Island high country has a special place in the hearts of most New Zealanders.

It is a landscape shaped by†climate, geology and people.

Countless painters, photographers, writers and film makers have celebrated its tussock-covered hills and craggy mountains, along with the farmers and sheep flocks that live here. Brand marketers increasingly use high country heritage values to connect with their consumers.

It is also the home of New Zealandís celebrated Merino wool industry. Merino wool from the high country is sought after by leading fashion designers for its superb quality and by discerning customers seeking garments made from a natural and sustainable fibre.

Yet despite its importance, this heritage is at great risk.

From 2002, the Labour-led New Zealand Government acquired vast areas of tussock grassland for a network of parks and reserves along the eastern flanks of the Southern Alps. Pleas from farmers and the Merino industry, which is losing its wool supply, went unheard. Independent research showing that grazing was sustainable was ignored, as was data showing no benefits to native biodiversity from the removal of grazing stock.

Nevertheless, the government used all means at its disposal, short of outright confiscation, to get farmers off their land. Farming families were put under huge financial and psychological pressure.

Who are we?

Photo copyright: Paul Collins

The High Country Accord is a trust representing most landholders who own farms with perpetual leasehold title. Our members come from families who know and love the high country; many of whom have farmed here for three or more generations.

When the Accord was set up in 2002, its main purpose was to ensure that tenure review in the high country met the objectives of the Crown Pastoral Lands Act of economic, environmental and socially sustainability.

In 2008 it was broadened further, when the Accord was given a mandate to respond to a High Court action brought by Fish & Game New Zealand, alleging that pastoral lessees do not have the legal right to exclude the public from accessing their properties.

On this site we explain what has been happening in the high country and what it means for all New Zealanders.

We believe private ownership and stewardship of the South Island high country is the best way to protect its environment, economy and cultural heritage. History shows that when farmers have secure tenure, they actively invest in their farm businesses and in protecting the environment. Everyone benefits.

We encourage you to talk about whatís happening in the high country with your friends. If you share our concerns, please let your local member of parliament know. Or, if you want to know more, please email us for more information.

Photo copyright (website masthead): Gilbert van Reenen, www.cleangreen.co.nz