Matt Lauer addressed the "difficult times" he's been through in his first interview since he was fired from the Today show last November due to alleged sexual misconduct.
The 60-year-old journalist spoke with Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint With John Campbell about a property issue concerning his ranch in New Zealand. Lauer bought a $13 million lease to the Hunter Valley Station Ranch before his sexual harassment scandal erupted, and is now fighting with government groups who want Lauer to grant more access to hikers and hunters in order for them to get to Hawea Conservation Park. Hunter Valley Station is the only thoroughfare to Hawea Conservation Park.
Lauer is against the easement, and says that the groups are "taking advantage" of the fallout of his highly publicized sexual misconduct scandal.
"I believe the groups that are behind this are in some ways unfortunately taking advantage of some difficult times I've been through over the past six months and I think they see me as an easy mark," Lauer says. "And what they're going to try to do is put this through, which would set a precedent because this has not been done ever before with a pastoral lease holder or property owner without that person's consent."
"In the year and a half or year plus that I've owned it, I've invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve the property and now a year later they come and say, 'Oh wait a minute, we granted you this lease under this set of rules. We'd like to change the rules,'" Lauer adds. "I don't think that's fair."
Lauer did say that he was open to "explore" compensation if an easement is granted. Meanwhile, the Walking Access Commission and Department of Conservation, which is seeking the easement, is arguing that since the land is technically owned by the government, the public should have greater access.
A source close to Lauer tells ET that he is planning to spend more time in New Zealand, and may not ever want to make a career comeback in the United States.
"[His] friends don't see Matt returning to the spotlight anytime soon," he source says. "They're not sure he'll ever want to make a big career comeback."
"It's a priority for him to get to New Zealand and spend some time away from the States," the source continues. "He's still leaning on longtime friends for support; people who have stood by his side and know him as a person."
"I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months," Lauer stated. "I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost. But defending my family now requires me to speak up."
"I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC," the statement continued. "However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false."
Matt Lauer and Annette Roque together through the years
Matt Lauer and Annette Roque together through the years
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 12: Annette Roque and Matt Lauer attend Apollo in the Hamptons 2017: hosted by Ronald O. Perelman at The Creeks on August 12, 2017 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Apollo)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22: Annette Roque and Matt Lauer attend the 2013 Animal League America Celebrity gala at The Waldorf=Astoria on November 22, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque Lauer attend the 38th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show - Grand Prix Sunday on September 1, 2013 in Bridgehampton, New York. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08: 'Today' host Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque attend 2013 Tribeca Ball at New York Academy of Art on April 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 03: Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque attend the 2008 UNICEF Snowflake Ball at Cipriani 42nd Street on December 3, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MAY 15: TV personality Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque visit the 'Ye Waverly Inn' resturant on May 15, 2008 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic)
Actress Mary Tyler Moore, television journalist Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque attend the Fifth Annual ASPCA Bergh Ball on April 25, 2002 at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - APRIL 23: Annette Roque and Matt Lauer attend ROGER VIVIER Cocktail Party Benefiting CENTRAL PARK CONSERVANCY at Roger Vivier on April 23, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - MAY 8: Annette Roque and Matt Lauer attend TIME MAGAZINE'S 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD at Jazz @ Lincoln Center on May 8, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by JIMI CELESTE/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - MAY 8: Matt Lauer and Annette Roque Lauer attend TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People 2007 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 8, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by PATRICK MCMULLAN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Matt Lauer and Annette Roque Lauer attend Baccarat Presents the 2nd Annual UNICEF SNOWFLAKE BALL at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on November 28, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Matt Lauer, Annette Roque Lauer during Bergdorf Goodman celebrates Madonna's new book at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by M. Von Holden/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - APRIL 19: NBC 'Today' show host Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque arrive for Time Magazine Celebrates New 'Time 100' list of Most Influential People In The World at the Time Warner Center on April 19, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
Annette Roque Lauer and Matt Lauer during Escada and InStyle Host Benefit for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF at ESCADA Fifth Avenue in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Matt Lauer, Annette Roque Lauer during Bette Midler Receives the Medal of Distinction by Lenox Hill Hospital at 2002 Autumn Ball at Waldorf Astoria in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic)
Matt Lauer and Annette Roque during 5th Annual ASPCA Bergh Ball at Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - APRIL 25: Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque attend ASPCA Bergh Ball Honoring Roger A. Caras on April 25, 2001 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
370677 06: Today Show Host Matt Lauer with his wife Annette Roque Lauer attend The Fresh Air Fund Benefit, June 8, 2000 in New York City. The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not for profit agency which has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million disadvantaged New York City children since 1877. The annual event is held at Tavern On The Green in New York City. (Photo By George De Sota/Liaison)
Television journalist Matt Lauer and wife, model Annette Roque, at book party for Al Roker. (Photo by Marion Curtis/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - OCTOBER 21: Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque attend Third Annual GQ Men of the Year Awards on October 21, 1998 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nyc 10/21/98 Gq Magazine Honors 'Men Of The Year' At Radio City Music Hall. Matt Lauer & New Bride Annette Roque (Photo By Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 03: NBC 'Today' show host Matt Lauer and model Annette Roque leave Bridgehampton Presbyterian Chuch on Long Island after their wedding. (Photo by John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NANTUCKET - JUNE 19: Nantucket Film Festival. Matt Lauer and then-fiancï¿½ Annette Roque at Bob and Suzanne Wright?s party at the Nantucket Film Festival, Nantucket, MA June 19, 1998 (Photo by Lindsay Brice/Getty Images)
Matt Lauer & Annette Roque during 1997 Lexus Challenge After Party at La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Annette Roque and Matt Lauer during 'Anchors Aweigh' Benefit for Muscular Dystrophy Association at Aboard Spirit of New York in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)