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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 71

Pastoral Lands

Pastoral Lands.

Lands that are not immediately required for settlement, mountainous lands, and lands unsuitable for cultivation, are leased for pastoral purposes. Such lands occupy a considerable portion of New Zealand, and are advantageously used for sheep grazing, especially in the South Island. They are leased by auction in "runs" of various extent, as the nature of the country may require.

Unless in "extraordinary circumstances," of which the Land Board is the judge, no larger area than is sufficient to carry 20,000 sheep or 4,000 head of cattle all the year round can be leased in one lot.

"Pastoral lands" arc defined in the Land Act as "lands suitable exclusively for pasturage, and not capable of being used with profit in areas of a carrying-capacity of less than five thousand sheep."

"Pastoral-agricultural lands" arc lands "adapted partly for pasturage and partly for agricultural purposes, and suitable for division into areas of not more than 5,000 acres.

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Pastoral lands in areas exceeding 5,000 acres are leased as runs for a period not exceeding twenty-one years. Each run must contain sufficient low ground to insure the proper working of the run. For this purpose high and low ground may be offered as one run, even although not contiguous.

Pastoral-agricultural lands may be disposed of in such manner as the Governor may appoint; and any pastoral lease thereof may be resumed by the Government, either in the whole or in part, upon giving twelve months' notice to the lessee. If only a part of the area comprised in the lease is resumed, the lessee may, if he thinks fit so to do, surrender the whole of his lease.

No person or company can hold more than one run of any kind.

But if the run held by a lessee is insufficient for the grazing of 10,000 sheep or 2,000 head of cattle, then in such case the lessee may become the holder of other land, making up "an aggregate area" sufficient to carry that number of sheep or cattle.

The holder of a "small grazing-run" may not be the lessee of a pastoral or pastoral-agricultural run.

A pasturage lease or license entitles the holder to the sole right of pasturage over the lands specified therein, but confers no right to the soil, nor to timber or minerals thereon or therein. Miners may at any time enter, and prospect, or mine on the land. And if any part of the land comprised in the lease is otherwise leased, sold, granted, or reserved for any purpose by the Government the lease over such part immediately determines. The power to make roads and rights of way over the lands is at all times reserved.

The lessee is bound by conditions in his lease to prevent the destruction of timber, and the growth of gorse, broom, and sweetbriar on the land comprised in his lease. He must also destroy rabbits, and prevent their increase on his run. As it is manifestly to his own benefit that he should comply with these conditions they are not regarded as onerous.

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Any fraudulent arrangement or agreement with other persons, entered into for the purpose of evading or defeating any of the provisions of the Act, will render the lease liable to forfeiture. This is a condition of every lease.

Pastoral or pasturage leases can only be taken up for the "sole use and benefit" of the actual lessee, and not directly or indirectly for the benefit of any other person or persons.

Transfers.—A lessee may transfer his interest, with the sanction of the Board, if he has complied fully with the conditions of his lease and paid his rent.

The transferee will be subject to the same conditions as the original lessee.

If the transfer is by way of mortgage, having a power of sale in case of default, the transferee must exercise such power within two years; or if sufficient reason be shown the Board may extend the time to three years.

The Board may always, in their discretion, and in the public interest, refuse to sanction the transfer of a lease or of any interest in a run.

When the lease of a run is about to expire, the Board decides whether the whole or any portion of it shall again be let for depasturing purposes, and the lessee is notified accordingly.

If the Board decides on again leasing the run, or a part of it, the new lease is offered by auction at least twelve months before the expiration of the old lease. If the former holder does not then become the purchaser, his improvements are valued, and the amount added to the upset price, and paid over to him by the Receiver of Land Revenue. If the lease is not again offered for sale the lessee may remove his improvements, buildings, fencing, &c.

Rabbit-proof fences are specially dealt with, and when the land is not re-leased a valuation is made, and the ascertained value of such fences is paid by the Crown.

The lessee may subdivide his run at any time during the currency of his lease, on the recommendation of the Board, with the approval of the Governor.

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When the lessee of a run exceeding 5,000 acres has erected a homestead and buildings on the land, he has the right, with the consent of the Board, to select and occupy a block of 150 acres during the currency of his lease, and this block will be exempt from the right of resumption.

Rent is payable half-yearly at stated periods. If not paid within thirty days after it falls due 10 per cent. is added to the amount; and if it remains unpaid for three months the Commissioner may declare the lease forfeited, and resume possession.

Boundary disputes between adjoining runholders are settled by arbitration under the direction of the Land Board. One arbitrator is appointed by each runholder, and a third by the Board, and their decision is binding on all parties concerned.

A pastoral lease may be surrendered with the approval of the Board.

Temporary licenses for periods not exceeding three years are granted for pastoral lands not otherwise disposed of. These licenses are subject to cancellation in respect of any part of the land which may be purchased or selected, reserving to the licensee the right to remove fencing.

Provision is made for the depasturing cattle and sheep on unsold Crown lands whilst travelling, but only within a prescribed distance of roads and tracks, or when leading to Crown lands where persons are engaged in mining or other industrial pursuits.