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Mackenzie Country Trust Update #2.

The Mackenzie Country Trust was launched in Tekapo in late February by the Associate Minister of Conservation, Hon. Nicky Wagner. In the five months since the Trust met for an inaugural two-day workshop in late April, two Trust meetings have been held. The Trust will be meeting again later this month.

The seven trustees are Mike Neilson (Chairman), Claire Barlow, Marie Brown, Julia Mackenzie, Paddy Boyd, David Stone and Peter Wilson.

The Trust is currently developing a concise Strategic Plan. This Plan will be supported by the other three key foundation planning legs of the Trust’s work; a Business and Marketing Plan, Communications Plan and a Biodiversity and Landscape Plan.

As outlined in the last update the Trust received the first of its grants from the Crown being a grant of $50,000 from the Department of Conservation back in April. A second grant for $50,000 will be provided by DOC next year. An application was made in May to the Ministry for Environment (MfE) Community Environment Fund for the $100,000 foundation funding promised in 2015 by Minster of Environment, Hon. Dr. Nick Smith. We are still awaiting the outcome of that process.

The first portion of a $200,000 grant from Blue Lake Investment (NZ) Ltd, who are the new overseas owners of Guide Hill Station has recently been made to the Trust following a meeting between Mike Neilson and Mr Lee. Along with the grants from DOC and MfE, this funding will provide sufficient funding to get the Trust established and into a position where it can secure funding to support the longer term work of the Trust.

Mike Neilson recently presented a cheque for the first revenue for the Trust from the Mackenzie Eco Points project which Mike operates as part of the Ohau Snowfields season pass.

While only a start, these types of investment are the ones the Trust needs to grow over the next couple of years. Long term funding has to be developed so the Trust can sustain the implementation of the Joint Management Agreements with landholders and has to be secured before serious work can begin on the implementation of the protection work.

Trustees have been working on various aspects of the foundation tools for the Trust, with various professional companies including the Joint Management Agreement template (JMA), trademark and intellectual property protection and registration, and the development of branding for the Trust. Development of a website which will be a significant communication tool is one of the next priorities.

Those of you who participated in the Shared Vision Forum will remember the involvement of iwi in the process did not eventuate. The Trust has recognised that it needs to get iwi support and involvement and Claire Barlow has been working on these relationships over the last few months.

There is still some way to go but we are getting closer to some form of formal relationship with runaka representatives.

In August, several Trustees were involved with the Environmental Defence Society conference, Marie Brown and Mike Neilson as panellists and Claire Barlow made a presentation on behalf of the Trust. This was a valuable opportunity for the Trustees who attended, particularly for networking.

Claire is moving to Wellington at the end of her time as Mayor but will continue to be a Trustee. Peter is also on the move to Palmerston North with a new job with Fish and Game but will also be staying on as a Trustee.

The most significant issue for the Trust is working through what staff resources it needs and can sustain financially over the next stages of establishment particularly for administration and support. Some work is being done on this and it will be a topic for further discussion at the next meeting later this month. In the interim the Trust will continue to retain the services of Rob Young on a casual basis until a more permanent arrangement is in place.

The Trust has applied and been accepted into the Mackenzie District Council’s Plan Change 13 proceedings. This will mean Judge Jackson can be formally informed of the Trust and the purpose of a Joint Management Agreement and how these agreements could be integrated into the plan change.

The Trustees are confident that we are moving steadily forward and we have a plan which will see many of the key strategic elements in place by early 2017. This will allow the Trust to move to the significant task of securing a sustainable funding system for its work with landholders on Joint Management Agreements.

Mike Neilson
Chairperson, Mackenzie Country Trust.

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