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Protecting our precious places

New fund launched for QEII covenantors

Media Statement

Embargoed till 9 May 2017

A new fund to help covenantors with the management of their covenants was launched today by QEII National Trust Chair, James Guild, at an event hosted by Rt Hon David Carter at Parliament’s Grand Hall.

The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement aims to support covenantors with strategically important enhancement projects they have planned for their covenants.

It can also be used to help covenantors with recovery plans for their covenants after being hit by extreme natural events, or if they are facing other challenges such as large financial burdens or health issues.

Mr Guild says the National Trust’s thousands of covenantors have contributed millions of dollars over the years in managing and enhancing their covenants that protect natural and cultural heritage features on their land.

This is done voluntarily and across New Zealand’s privately owned, lowland landscapes where some of our richest biodiversity is represented but where it is most at risk and least protected, he says.

‘Their philanthropic action and desire to do the right thing by the land are the values that underpin the National Trust, and they are leaving an enduring legacy on the land for future generations of New Zealanders to enjoy,’ he says.

Mr Guild says the Fund was set up because the National Trust recognises that management challenges can be costly and, for some covenantors, can be overwhelming.

The fund does not draw on taxpayer money. It is funded using income from other sources, including bequests, donations, and revenue from the National Trust’s investment portfolio.

Successful applicants may receive up to 50% of the total costs of their projects up to a maximum of $20,000.

The fund will not be available to support normal management activity that is a requirement of the covenant deed, or any activities that are part of a consent process or other legal obligations.

The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement was named for Gordon and Celia Stephenson. Gordon Stephenson was a key founder of the QEII National Trust, and together with his wife Celia, was the first to register an QEII open space covenant with the National Trust in 1979.

Around $150,000 a year will be set aside for the fund. The National Trust will be seeking donations and sponsorship to replenish and help grow the fund.

The launch of The Stephenson Fund is one of a number of events organized by the National Trust as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations this year.

The QEII National Trust was established in 1977 and partners with private landowners wanting to permanently protect special natural and cultural features on their land with covenants. QEII (open space) covenants are binding agreements that are registered on the land title and protect the associated land forever. The covenanting landowner and subsequent owners of the land retain ownership of the covenanted area.

Since 1977, the National Trust has established over 4300 covenants with landowners, protecting around 180,000ha of special places on private land.



James Guild, QEII National Trust Chair – 03 3186 873

Mike Jebson, QEII National Trust CEO — 021 499 759/04 474 1683


More information

The Stephenson Covenant Enhancement Fund

established by Queen Elizabeth II National Trust and launched on 9 May 2017.


The National Trust recognizes that many covenantors face particular challenges with the management of their covenants. For example:

  • Increases in pests (such as deer, wasps, wallabies)
  • Severe damage caused by extreme natural events (such as major fires, floods, earthquakes)
  • Overwhelming regional-wide weed issues or other incursions (such as plant diseases) that are threatening the health of covenants.

The fund is named for Gordon and Celia Stephenson. Gordon Stephenson was a key founder of the QEII National Trust. Gordon and his wife, Celia, were the first landowners to establish an open space covenant with the National Trust in 1979.

Purpose of the fund

  • To provide strategic support with the management and enhancement of open space covenant.
  • To provide support for covenantors faced with covenant management issues that are beyond their control.

How does it work?

The Stephenson Fund is a contestable fund.

Successful applicants can potentially receive up to 50% of the total cost of their project costs up to a maximum grant of $20,000.

Applications for funding support are made by the landowner.

Landowners should consult with their QEII Regional Representative before submitting their funding application to be sure their form is completed accurately and their project meets the fund’s objectives.

Submissions must be made using the official Stephenson Fund application form (available on our website

What can the funds be used for?

  • Pest animal and ecological weed control.
  • Fencing enhancements (for example, deer top-ups).
  • Revegetation programmes.
  • Signage or infrastructure to support recreational use.
  • Specialist advice about the values protected in a covenant.
  • Recovery support for covenants that have been badly affected by unforeseen extreme events (for example, slips, floods, fire, earthquake damage).

What can’t the funds be used for?

The fund may not be used as part of a consent process or in lieu of a landowner’s obligations under their covenant agreement (however, an application may be considered for the latter example if special circumstances apply, for example, hardship or health burdens).

Where do the funds come from?

The Stephenson fund is not funded by taxpayer money.

The National Trust has set up this Fund using income from other sources such as bequests, donations, and revenue from its investment portfolio.

Resources for the Stephenson Fund are limited. The National Trust intends to run fundraising campaigns and seek sponsorship and bequests in the future to help support and grow the Fund.

More information about the fund and how to apply at this link.

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