Agricultural intensification, ownership, and landscape change in the Mackenzie Basin


  • Ann Brower Canterbury University
  • Rowan Sprague Lincoln University
  • Marion Vernotte AgroSup Dijon
  • Hamish McNair Canterbury University



This article investigates the role of shifting land ownership in landscape change in New Zealand’s Mackenzie Basin. It was hypothesised that ownership patterns influence landscape transformation; and changes in ownership lead to landscape changes. Satellite imagery was used to trace recent landscape changes quantifying a change from brown extensive pastoralism to green irrigated pasture. It was concluded that the change in land ownership following land reform allowed for about half of this agricultural intensification since 2003. Aggregating intensification on new freehold land with that on current pastoral lease changes the story; Crown decisions about disposition or intensification of Crown land account for two-thirds of intensification since 2003. Hence, if current trends in the Mackenzie are to change, the Crown must examine its decision patterns. Change in some form seems likely. The results presented speak to who has the power to make change. The choice and the power reside somewhere in the space between the Commissioner of Crown Lands and the Minister of Land Information. 


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How to Cite

Brower, A., Sprague, R., Vernotte, M., & McNair, H. (2018). Agricultural intensification, ownership, and landscape change in the Mackenzie Basin. Journal of New Zealand Grasslands, 80, 47–54.



Vol 80 (2018)