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NZ Land - let's keep it in NZ ownership

Anxiety over continued sales of New Zealand farm land to offshore interests, particularly China, appears to be growing amongst New Zealanders. When you chat to farmers and friends, they are all very concerned to see the wholesale "sale" of our land. The most recent notable sale was 741 ha of coastal vineyard land with seafront in Marlborough.

The Crafar farms were all sold to Chinese interests at $25 per kg ms which is a debt any New Zealand farmer could service, so the land was sold cheaply. Many Kiwi farmers wanted to purchase one or two farms but the Receivers would only sell all the farms as one lot. WHY!?

If you think about it and look forward into the future, China is buying up good dairy land and now is building a factory at Pokeno so they can vertically integrate from grass to baby. This means that they control every aspect of the supply chain and New Zealand gets near to nothing. They will own the farms, staff them, send the milk to their own factories, manufacture it into baby food and send it straight home. Will Kiwi firms be able to get an Import Licence for baby food into China then?

All New Zealand will get from it is the rates! Will they be good custodians of our land? That is another question. There is no way we can buy land in China, so why should they be able to buy here?

New Zealand could have a new tenure. 99 year leases for offshore investors. After 99 years the land reverts back to New Zealand ownership. They would have to maintain the land in a good husbandry manner. History shows how Great Britain forced Hong Kong from China in 1898, leased it rent free to Hong Kong then on 1st July 1997 diplomatically gave it back to China at the expiry of the 99 year lease. We could do the same thing.

I would imagine they would pay near freehold prices for a 99 year lease of our land. Maybe the Maori land tenure will be our saviour as Maori land cannot be sold or mortgaged without consent from the Maori Land Court. This gives their land the most enduring tenure.

This also leads to an infrastructure issue. As more foreign buyers purchase land and houses, it puts pressure on local councils to increase the infrastructure to meet the increased demands. What if every foreign investor was charged 10% above the purchase price to go to local council. So, a house in Auckland for $1M would see $100,000 go to council. Not a bad idea given that a lot of city expansion is coming from increased debt which has to be serviced by future generations.

This whole debate around foreign ownership of our best resource – land, makes me nervous for the future generations. What happens if there is a World War, and there could well be over food and land, we are already invaded!

China and other foreign countries can lease our land, but should not be able to buy it outright.

In summary, I do not think the Government are aware of how nervous the general public are over this issue. New Zealand has some of the best agricultural land in the world, not to mention available water. We need to protect our main natural resource for future generations, not sell it to countries who are greedily buying it up to feed their burgeoning population.

Let's learn from history and protect our only resource – land.


 

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