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Open Access Short report

The myth of encroachment

Ann Brower

Author Affiliations

Faculty of Environment, Society and Design, Lincoln University 7647, 810 Forbes Building, P O Box 84, Christchurch, New Zealand

Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2012, 2:3  doi:10.1186/2041-7136-2-3

Published: 9 May 2012

Abstract

Scholars of pastoralism often refer to changes of pastoral land tenure as ‘encroachment.’ The New Zealand case of pastoral land tenure reform suggests that this is incorrect for several reasons. First it takes the point of view of the pastoralist, which introduces unnecessary bias. Second, it assumes that all changes in land tenure are situations in which the state, or another powerful agent, takes land away from the less powerful pastoralists. Third, it assumes a single immutable power relation between the state (or other external actor initiating land tenure reform) and the pastoralist in which the state is more powerful and is only too happy to exercise its power whilst expropriating the pastoralists of the land they use. The term ‘encroachment’ implies that there is just one pattern of land tenure change. I suggest that land tenure reform is a more apt, less biased, descriptor.

Keywords:
New Zealand; Pastoral leases; Land reform; Economics