The Insidious Buy-up of NZ
I've just got my copy of CAFCA's bulletin - as a member of Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) - in which they list land purchases by foreigners.
It's a very worthwhile bulletin (100 pages) (about three a year) with latest issue having articles on the the TPPA, GCSB etc-but back to the list of foreign purchases. In the latest I note the Chinese in a "confidential" decision have bought 1100 hectares on North Auckland's Karikari Peninsula, Hollywood mogul James Cameron continues to add to his “Wairarapa Empire” and of particular interest to outdoor recreationalists is "Americans buy 4,000 hectare Lilydale Station at Fairlie" "Americans buy 27,000ha Mt Pember Station in Lees Valley Canterbury and part of Ben Avon Station -- 2,737 ha sold to a British businessman to develop "a luxury wilderness lodge" as well as offer guided hunting, trout fishing etc---.
Mt Potts Station is another in “foreign” ownership. About a dozen years ago, Mt Potts underwent Land Tenure Review relinquishing most of the property to the Department of Conservation and retaining 1200 hectares of freehold land which is the Mt Potts Station of today. In 2011 Mt Potts was purchased by Alexandre Germanovich.
Back in the 1970s the late John Henderson and a few of us successfully fought the sale of Takaro in the Upukerora Valley at Te Anau where Stockton Rush a rich US businessman wanted to exploit the fishing and hunting values for personal gain. At the time John and I went to battle against Duncan McIntyre (Minister of Lands) who authorised the sale. It along with trout farming became a major issue at the election. McIntyre was defeated at the 1972 election.
Now to me these latest foreign purchases of high country stations are little different to Takaro Lodge.
In the case of the high country stations foreigners invariably lock the gate to Kiwis wanting to access fishing, hunting, 4 wheel driving, tramping or whatever recreation. To understand their view they come from a culture of private estates, locked gates and have little appreciation of the old Kiwi egalitarian culture.
I personally are witnessing - and feeling it - in Marlborough where Malaysians, Chinese and Koreans have bought high country stations and locked the gates! I've lost recreational access to three stations.
You can't blame the vendors- i.e. sellers. Wool prices are pathetic thanks to inept ministers of agriculture and governments - but that's another subject. To give you an idea possum fur is 30 times the value of crossbred wool!
Meat returns are poor. It's all due to the corporate culture encouraged by this government where companies indulge in cut throat export competition and drive prices and thus returns to farmers, down. So feel sorry for farmers. A farmer facing "pensioner" age can't be blamed for selling for the healthy sums foreigners pay. Ben Avon sold for $6.5 million, Lilydale for $3.5 million and Mt Pember for around $20 million!!
NZ is losing out badly. The prices foreigners pay drive up the market price so young Kiwi farmers can't afford the inflated prices. And the Kiwi outdoor public finds traditional access vanishing.
The outdoor recreation public should be standing up on this issue.
Related to this is tenure review where public lands are freeholded and once that happens a high country farmer can sell - it's his or her land, no longer public very likely to foreigners. That is my one big reservation about the long term wisdom of tenure review.
And what do you think? Do you care?
(1) To join CAFCA google their website.
(2) Opinions expressed on CORANZ's website do not necessarily reflect the council's view.