This article briefly reviews a complicated and politically explosive process of land reform on New Zealand's South Island. It presents the legal and administrative anatomy of the reform, and analyzes the results in light of the statutory goals. Comparing the results to the four goals reveals that the Crown has not defined its first goal and is meeting its goal of economic development, but has achieved only Pyrrhic victories for the conservation and recreation-related goals. The majority of the reformed land has been freed from pastoral constraints, but at a seemingly unnecessary cost to the public of NZ$18.2 million. And on a key indicator of conservation, biodiversity protection, the Crown is failing to protect the most critical habitat while successfully protecting the scree and glacier, which require little protection. The New Zealand government has other policy tools available that might prove less expensive to the taxpayers and might yield conservation victories that are less Pyrrhic. Finally, the article concludes that a similar land reform policy idea is not likely to achieve legislative success elsewhere, as interest group opposition would be too intense.
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Vol. 60 • No. 4