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Protecting our precious places

Covenanting information for overseas investors

If you are an overseas investor buying land in New Zealand, the National Trust may be able to help you meet certain conditions required under the Overseas Investment Act 2005. For example, we can help you ‘benefit’ New Zealand by working with you to protect a special area of your land with a covenant.

The National Trust is a charitable trust and independent statutory organisation. We work in partnership with private landowners to help them permanently protect special places on their land with covenants. The National Trust’s ‘open space’ covenant is an adequate protective mechanism for any sensitive areas of vegetation and fauna habitat described under section 17(2)(b) of the Overseas Investment Act 2005.

Information about sensitive land and the Overseas Investment Act 2005 can be found on the Overseas Investment Office website.

Examples of protection agreements we have worked on with overseas investors include;

• the protection of 51,564ha of iconic high country landscape rich in natural, historic, cultural and recreation values near Queenstown.

The National Trust has considerable expertise in legal protection on private property and can manage a land protection agreement from start to finish.

Benefiting New Zealand

The Overseas Investment Act lists a number of criteria against which ‘benefiting New Zealand’ can be tested. They include whether there are, or will be, adequate mechanisms in place for protecting or enhancing existing areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna. This might be, for example:

  • pest control
  • fencing
  • fire control
  • erosion control
  • riparian planting programmes
  • covenants over the land.

Covenanting land

Covenanting privately owned land with the National Trust means special features will be protected forever, binding all future landowners. The Trust is also able to enter into an open space covenant agreement for protection of Crown lease land.

The Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust (National Trust) was set up specifically in 1977 to give landowners a way to legally protect land with covenants without surrendering ownership of their land. Should you be interested in this option and the land is suitable for covenanting, the National Trust can organise the whole covenanting process in-house. This includes evaluating the biodiversity values of an area, arranging survey of the area if approved for covenanting, and registering the covenant on the title to the land.

Once a covenant is established the National Trust’s regional staff are on hand to provide ongoing support and advice on the management of the covenant. They also monitor covenants to make sure the covenant objectives and the landowner/holder’s aspirations are honoured through time.

Costs for overseas investors to covenant land

We will usually seek the recovery of costs to covenant if the establishment of a covenant is primarily driven by commercial benefit or is an imposed statutory obligation such as when overseas owners acquire or seek to acquire land and have to satisfy conditions imposed through the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

View a table of indicative costs to covenant land with the National Trust (these costs may be periodically reviewed by the National Trust).

More information

Overseas investors are invited to contact Queen Elizabeth II National Trust to discuss covenanting land with it.

FAQs about covenanting land with the QEII National Trust

Buying covenanted land

Covenant Care Guidelines PDF 130KB (the landowner’s and National Trust’s respective roles in caring for covenants)

Overseas Investment Office website

Overseas Investment Act 2005

Refer to Section 17 (2) for information on overseas investment in sensitive land.

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