Former Today Show host Matt Lauer is feuding with the New Zealand government over a 16,000-acre farm called Hunter Valley Station that he began leasing early last year. Will the disgraced TV star end up doing the “right thing,” and allow access to his property so that people can visit the Hawea Conservation Park?
Radar Online is reporting that local New Zealanders are not happy that Lauer has restricted access to his South Island property which is the only way that people can access the park – one of New Zealand’s most pristine locations.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 24, 2018
The New Zealand Walking Access Commission has filed an application with the Commissioner of Crown Lands requesting them to grant a 25-mile easement on Lauer’s property, and they are hoping that the 60-year-old will waive the $25,000 compensation, which he would be entitled to because of the value lost from grazing sheep and cattle.
The head of the 21,000-member Federated Mountain Clubs, Peter Wilson, says that Lauer should follow in the footsteps of other American landowners, like Shania Twain, who have allowed access to public lands through their private property.
“There’s still a chance that Mr. Lauer can do the right thing,” Wilson said. “Mr. Lauer needs to learn from that tradition. He’ll be well accepted by the New Zealand public.”
After NBC fired Lauer last November due to sexual assault allegations, Lauer was in danger of losing the land because of a good character clause in his lease. But, after a six-month investigation, New Zealand’s overseas investment office came to the conclusion that Lauer could continue to lease the land because he never faced any criminal charges.
Many outdoor enthusiasts believe Lauer should provide better access to Hawea Conservation Park, but his attorney Graeme Todd says that his client should get substantial compensation. He added that Lauer has already allowed more than 100 people to use his land since he began his lease, which is in compliance with the country’s public access requirements.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 25, 2018
But, Wilson believes that anyone who wants to access Lauer’s property should be able to do so.
In his first interview since his sexual assault scandal, Lauer said that he thinks his opponents see him as “an easy mark” because of what he has been through over the past few months.
Even though New Zealand officials say that Lauer has denied multiple people access to the pathway on his property, Lauer says that isn’t true, and they are targeting him because of his scandal. He added that they are trying to change the rules and that isn’t fair.
“In my opinion, and I don’t think I’m being a conspiracy theorist here or paranoid, I believe the groups behind this are in some ways, unfortunately, taking advantage of some difficult times I’ve been through over the past six months,” Matt Lauer said.