The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand (CORANZ) says foreign purchases of rural land were of major concern and undermined election promises by government’s three coalition parties at the 2017 election.
Assurances before the 2017 election by all three government coalition partners – Labour, Greens and NZ First – to curb sales of land, were shown by statistics to have not been honoured. Since the Labour-Greens-NZ First government was formed the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) had approved more than $2.3 billion of forestry related land sales – about 31,000 hectares previously New Zealand owned.
Recent information shows that six of the ten biggest private landowners in New Zealand were foreign-owned forestry companies. It was no surprise to learn that the forestry sector was nearly 75% foreign owned.
Foreign ownership was resulting in diminishing public access to the outdoors.
“Intertwined with this rural land is often outdoor recreation values, fishing, hunting and tramping,” said CORANZ spokesman Andi Cockroft. “However access to the outdoor recreation has been diminished as invariably the new foreign owners stop public access.”
It was also disclosed that the Labour-led government had actively encouraged further foreign purchases of land for forestry through a stream-lined “special forestry test.”
“So much for election promises,” he said.
CAFCA’s vigilance and publication also listed other foreign purchases throughout New Zealand in regions such as Wairoa, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.
On outdoor recreation access, under the previous New Zealand ownership of the “family farm” nature, access could usually be obtained by asking permission. Much of the land was forestry or farmland destined for exotic forestry by its new foreign owners.
CORANZ questioned the environmental impact of exotic forest monocultures saying the plantings resulted in depleted water ways since pines were “much more thirsty” compared to native forest, acidification of soils and heavy silt laden runoffs at clear felling time with the latter adversely affecting estuarine areas such as the inner Marlborough Sounds and Marlborough rivers.
Andi Cockroft said the exposure of sales of farmland and forestry sales showed the lack of integrity by political parties. All three coalition parties had pledged to stem the foreign sales flow while the Green Party seemed ignorant of the adverse environmental impact of large scale pine monocultures he said.
© Marlborough Sounds-pristine bays silted up by forestry runoff