Shania’s ex-husband on song with wilding pine crusaders

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A Queenstowner fighting wilding pines has his fingers crossed Shania Twain’s eco-friendly ex-hubby buys Coronet Peak Station. 

Music producer Mutt Lange has applied to the Overseas Investment Office to acquire the iconic local property. 

“We’re hoping like heck that it does go through,” chair of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) Peter Willsman says. 

Soho Property Ltd, of which Lange is a shareholder, already owns Mount Soho, Glencoe and Motatapu Station and Willsman says adding Coronet Peak Station to their portfolio will benefit the community and the country as a whole. 

“Lange’s committed to clearing all the wildings, including goats, off those three properties. He’s basically cleared Motatapu and Soho Station and he’s now working on Glencoe,” Willsman says. 

Willsman sang the praises of “our good friend Mutt Lange” for fighting wilding pines on his extensive properties at a Queenstown Lakes District Council Community Services Committee meeting this morning. 

Currently the 22,000ha Coronet Peak Station is owned by Malta-based Irishman Eamon Cleary, who owns several Queenstown and Arrowtown commercial buildings and is estimated by National Business Review’s Rich List to be worth $2 billion. 

“During the time that Eamon Cleary has had it, nothing’s been done with wildings other than what WCG’s done. 

He’s not done anything as a private person, though he’s put a little bit of money in. That’s all,” Willsman says. 

“Coronet Peak Station’s getting out of control faster than we can maintain it.” 

“We just haven’t got the resources, financially, manpower or anything, to be able to do it.” 

He estimates it’ll cost between $800,000 and $900,000 to clear the land of wilding pines, whereas the volunteer group, which receives $125,000 in funding from QLDC, can only invest a few thousand dollars to fight the spread. 

Under the Otago Regional Council, landowners legally only have to clear the land of Contorta pine, but this leaves plenty of scope for the spread of other breeds, Willsman says. 

The group is trying to get the ORC to meet QLDC funding contributions. 

This month the WCG won a $1000 star prize through its SBS bank account and was named supreme winner at the TrustPower Queenstown Lakes District Community Awards last year. 

The community group will also feature on TVNZ6 programme Volunteer Power, with a film crew capturing Queenstown volunteers in action attacking wilding pines on the Ben Lomond track tomorrow.