Lauer leases a farm from the New Zealand government and has come under fire for providing restricted access through the South Island property to Hawea Conservation Park, one of the country’s most pristine areas.
Peter Wilson, who heads the 21,000-member Federated Mountain Clubs, exclusively told Radar that Lauer should follow in the tradition of other American land owners in New Zealand, including Shania Twain, who’ve allowed New Zealanders access through their properties to public lands.
Wilson said he plans to reach out to Lauer once more and ask him to give up the fight to prohibit hikers access through his property.
“There’s still a chance that Mr. Lauer can do the right thing,” he said. “Mr. Lauer needs to learn from that tradition. He’ll be well accepted by the New Zealand public.”
After his sexual assault allegations came to light, NBC fired Lauer from his morning show and he was in danger of losing the New Zealand property.
A stipulation in Lauer’s lease requires the applicant to “continue to be of good character.” A six-month investigation by the country’s overseas investment office concluded in June and ruled that he could continue to lease the land.
Outdoor enthusiasts then argued Lauer should provide greater access to the conservation park, to which his attorney Graeme Todd argued would entitle his client to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in compensation.
Todd said Lauer has already complied with all public access requirements, allowing more than 100 people to come through since he took over the land in 2017.
However, Wilson said anyone wanting access must be allowed into the property by Lauer, his tenants and the farmer who watches over the land. As for compensation, Lauer would be entitled to the value lost for grazing sheep and cattle.
“We’re talking some $25,000 in U.S. dollars,” Wilson said about Lauer’s compensation.
New Zealand’s Walking Access Commission filed an application with the Commissioner of Crown Lands to grant an 25 mile easement through the property. The commission is hopeful Lauer will agree and waive the compensation.
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