Queen Elizabeth II National Trust
The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII) is a statutory New Zealand organisation independent from Government and managed by a Board of Directors. It was established in 1977 by the Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust Act 1977 "to encourage and promote, for the benefit of New Zealand, the provision, protection, preservation and enhancement of open space."
The organisation enables landowners to protect special features on their land through its open space covenants. QEII also owns 27 properties, including Aroha Island, which collectively protect 1,582 hectares of significant habitat. These have mostly been donated to the Trust. Stewardship of these properties is assisted by local communities and management committees.
As at 30 July 2015 QEII has registered over 4,000 open space covenants protecting 180,000 ha of land and wetland. Covenants vary in size from less than 0.1 hectares protecting rare plants to the 53,000 hectare mahu whenua covenants that protect and entire landscape in central Otago.
Open space is defined in the Act as any area of land or body of water that serves to preserve or to facilitate the preservation of any landscape of aesthetic, cultural, recreational, scenic, scientific, or social interest or value.
QEII puts a high priority on securing covenants that support the objections of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy.
The Act enables QEII to:
- negotiate and administer open space covenants (or protection agreements) with landowners,
- acquire and manage land,
- provide financial grants for open space projects,
- advocate open space protection through advice, research and information.