MP Nick Smith has written to the Overseas Investment Office to ensure any opportunity for improving access and conservation on Pepin Island are taken with the 520 ha property north of Nelson being up for sale.
“Pepin Island is an iconic property for Nelson because of its closeness to the city, its wild landscapes and its beautiful coast adjacent to Delaware Bay, Cable Bay and the Wakapuaka Estuary. I have written to the Overseas Investment Office and the LINZ and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage to ensure that if the property is to be resold to an overseas buyer, we take the opportunity to improve public access and the conservation protections on the island.
“The problem with Pepin Island is that the legal title for the 520 hectares goes right down to the water’s edge around its10kms coast, whereas most areas have a Queens Chain reserve of 20 metres. This means people are trespassing if when kayaking, fishing or walking they land beyond the water’s edge. It is a great kayaking trip to circumnavigate the island that I have done many times but made more difficult by not being allowed to land. My ambition is for the normal 20 metre margin around the island to be public reserve and the current sale process is an opportunity to secure this.
“I was frustrated not to have been able to secure these public access improvements when the property was sold to its current German owners in in 1996. The experience spurred me to advocate for changes in the overseas investment law that now allows Government to require public access and conservation covenants on any land being sold to overseas interests.
“It is possible that Pepin Island may be repurchased by New Zealanders in which case there would be no legal opportunity to address these access issues. I am not pushing for an overseas buyer, but making sure that if there is one, there is a gain for the Nelson community.”