Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Kiwis fear being tenants in NZ

Caitriona Murphy and Jim O'Brien

The controversial sale of New Zealand farmland to foreign buyers could become an election issue for farmers.

Concern is growing among farmers and other citizens that tracts of top quality farmland are being sold to foreign investors. Even Prime Minister John Key has been quoted as saying he does not want New Zealanders to be "tenants in their own country".

Lobby group 'Save the Farms' is campaigning for New Zealand citizens to retain ownership of all agricultural ground and land of "cultural importance".

It is seeking an immediate moratorium on the sale of this land to overseas investors.

Under New Zealand's current legislation, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) assesses applications from foreign buyers who want to invest in sensitive New Zealand assets.

In the five years up to July last year, sales of around 150,000ha were approved by the OIO to 235 foreign investors.

Opposition to foreign ownership has reached a head in recent weeks over the potential sale of Crafar farms, a large family-owned dairy business, to Chinese investors Shanghai Pengxin Group.

It is believed the North Island group of farms, which went into receivership last year, has been valued at NZ$206m (€117m).

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