Federated Mountain Clubs, as representative of New Zealand’s outdoor community, is calling upon American media personality Matt Lauer to restart negotiations with the community regarding his purchase of the Hunter Valley Station.
Federated Mountain Clubs welcomes Mr Lauer and his family to New Zealand. They have made a wise choice; however, we also invite them to recognise and participate in the highcountry tradition of hospitality, appropriate provision of public access and care for the land as represented by people such as the Aspinall family of the Matukituki and more recently Mutt Lange of Mahu Whenua. Overseas investment in land, particularly sensitive land such as lakefront, is a privilege in regard to which much care must be taken to maintain community support.
Federated Mountain Clubs, which is a voluntary organisation, participated in good faith in consultation with Mr Lauer’s agents regarding what appropriate public access provisions would be regarding this sale. Federated Mountains Clubs wants Mr Lauer to know that the New Zealand outdoors community is not happy with the public access provisions approved by the Overseas Investment Office. Only two out of nine recommendations put forward by the respected government agency, the Walking Access Commission, have been adopted.
Federated Mountain Clubs bottom line is a walkway easement, managed by the Department of Conservation, along the existing formed road through Hunter Valley Station to the public conservation land at the head of Lake Hāwea and beyond. This easement will provide for all forms of public access as appropriate. Federated Mountain Clubs invites Mr Lauer to reignite negotiations with the Walking Access Commission regarding this easement.
Federated Mountain Clubs campaigned for and achieved the creation of the 105,000 hectare Hāwea Conservation Park, and believes that the amazing outdoor recreation opportunities at its heart, the magnificent Hunter River valley – whether tramping, hunting or fishing – should be accessible for all.
Federated Mountain Clubs also observes that enduring access up the western shore of Lake Hāwea will guarantee public access to one of New Zealand’s greatest adventure mountain bike rides (the loop of Lake Hāwea), adding demonstrable value to Wanaka tourism as well as local recreational opportunities.
Federated Mountain Clubs again wishes Mr Lauer all the best, we share his love of the outdoors. We regret that the Overseas Investment Office has served him so poorly, with a decision which if not resolved promptly could cause considerable public controversy in an election year.