Overseas land sales, Landcorp land sales, and the environment

Written By: - Date published: 6:28 am, October 27th, 2017 - 194 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, farming, sustainability - Tags: , ,

Stuff are reporting that Jericho Station near Te Anau in Southland is being sold by Landcorp. An offer had been accepted from an overseas investor while an offer from a Southlander has been rejected even though it was only around $200,000 less. The bid is now going to the Overseas Investment Office for approval.

Winston Peters has been critical of the case this year,

Peters has also criticised the Jericho deal on the grounds that it represents an opportunity cost for New Zealand’s largest farmer. If the unconditional offer had been invested immediately it would have generated about $26,000 a month in interest.

Considering it took on average about eight months for an application to handled by the OIO, Landcorp would lose $208,000 in opportunity cost over that time, which equalled the difference in the two bids.

“If this $200,000 difference is true, then it is obvious National’s handpicked Landcorp board is not working in the best interests of New Zealand taxpayers,” Peters said several months ago.

It’s very easy to take a black and white position on this – NZ land should only be sold to NZers. I hold this position myself and am concerned about the amount of rural land in particular that is being sold to overseas buyers. But I’m equally concerned about what ends up happening to that land no matter who buys it. If the overseas buyer is going to convert a station to regenerative or sustainable agriculture vs a NZ buyer who is going to convert a sheep farm to dairy, what’s the best thing to do?

As it is, NZ’s policy has been to favour economics. There is some attention paid to environmental issues, but they’re tagged on rather than being intrinsic. Protection of the environment is too often seen in the mainstream as being mitigation of pollution rather than truly taking care and giving respect. We need to centre the environment in policy, and this is even more important going into the potentially unstable word of climate change. In that context we also need to have our land owned by NZers.

What I’m pointing to here is that single policy solutions are no longer adequate but instead need to be integrated across the activities of the State. We need to protect ownership of land and we need to regulate and facilitate far better stewardship of the land than we do currently.

Which brings me to this. Why is Landcorp selling the farm at all? I hope it’s solely because of the direction from National who were intent on stripping NZ of its assets while it could, and that the Labour-led govt will now change Landcorp’s course. Given the central part that farms have to play in our future of climate mitigation and adaptation, food security, landcare and restoration, and transition to sustainable agriculture, having a government department that leads the way on those things in commercial farming makes sense.

Land should be considered an inalienable part of any country. I would go further and say it shouldn’t be primarily seen as a resource, but instead as the very ground of our being upon which we are dependent. I’m tempted to say that’s a discussion for another day, but there is a direct line of connection between National’s pillage economy and selling Landcorp land, and right in the middle of that is NZ society’s view that land is there to be used, be it productive farming or recreation. Until we place the wellbeing of the land in the centre, it will always be vulnerable to the next change of government.

So yes, let’s push for an end to overseas land ownership, but we need to equally push for the environmental protection of that very same land. We also need the state to remember how central land is to everything else and retain its responsibility for working with public land for the public good.

194 comments on “Overseas land sales, Landcorp land sales, and the environment ”

  1. cleangreen 1

    Thank god we have Winston.

    We need Freehold protection of our productive land for certain and the Overseas Investment office needs to be closed down now!!!!!!!

    As “there has been very few rejections of foriegn buyers of our sensitive farmland in our small country”.

    This selling of our most important producing land is a crime as we are effectively cutting our own throats and those of our childens and grandchildren.

    As for the environment these overseas investors are not foung to be good custodians of our environment any more then we are and we need better management rules around land use in areas where pollution runoff is high such as in high rainfall regions like southland is.

    This wholesale selling of NZ must now stop.

    Thanks Weka for this excellent article, and have a great day.

  2. Ad 2

    Why does the state own and operate a farm?

    • cleangreen 2.1


      Good question, “why does the government own and operate a farm”?

      Probably for reseach, as we did previously when we had the “Lands and survey land holdings,” or for keeping a land public asset land banking, or for future protection of our dwindling land holdings for future sale for our own citizens?

      It seems like a future planning scheme.

      • Ad 2.1.1

        They are a great company, and one of the most forward-looking and adventurous farming businesses around. They are no doubt a model farmer to New Zealanders.

        This government should promise never to sell it to foreigners. But they should break it up and sell it to locals. They’ve already been doing that through the Treaty settlements.

        • Andre

          But surely if the government is to lead by example in boosting R&D and developing better farming practices, then keeping Landcorp in state hands would be really valuable for that strategy. Y’know, so the research teams can easily take the next step beyond tiny research plots into actual real world conditions and scale.

          • Ad

            That depends what the aim of the R&D is for.

            Personally I would hope that it focuses on generating higher value and lower mass products and services. That wouldn’t require public ownership.

            Although I am awaiting with interest how the Zero Carbon bill intersects with the R&D approach.

        • weka

          “But they should break it up and sell it to locals.”

          That doesn’t ensure the land gets used appropriately or well.

          • Ad

            Neither does public ownership in itself. Solid Energy. Many of the CRI’s. Even DoC has hardly been a model steward.

            • weka

              I was referring to Landcorp land. Selling it to the open market pretty much ensures it would be managed worse (not individual farms, but the Landcorp holdings overall). I’m glad you brought this up though, because farming is the exemplar of why private ownership and the market can’t be trusted. We already know that mainstream farming is a massive problem in NZ.

              I’m all for the govt cleaning up its act with other departments too.

              • Ad

                Lots of different ways to sell Landcorp.

                Plenty of subdivisions now have a raft of provisions on them:
                landscaping of a specific quality, kind of operation you can run, date by which you have to complete construction, minimum square metre coveraage, value of the construction. And then you have the District Plan provisions. Some developments even have a say on who the actual neighbours will be.

                A major point of restricting rural land sales to foreign owners is to ensure that New Zealand residents and citizens get a better chance at owning their own farm. Here’s a really simple start: break up Landcorp.

                • A major point of restricting rural land sales to foreign owners is to ensure that New Zealand residents and citizens get a better chance at owning their own farm.

                  Which is delusional. There really isn’t any more land being produced.

                • weka

                  “Lots of different ways to sell Landcorp.”

                  Of course, but none of the are necessary and you haven’t yet made a good argument for why selling the land off is better than retaining the land and the value that Landcorp ownership brings.

                  “Plenty of subdivisions now have a raft of provisions on them:
                  landscaping of a specific quality, kind of operation you can run, date by which you have to complete construction, minimum square metre coveraage, value of the construction. And then you have the District Plan provisions. Some developments even have a say on who the actual neighbours will be.”

                  Good environmental protection requires regulation and culture change. We’re seriously lagging on both. This is why despite the examples you give, we are still wrecking land at a very fast rate. Landscaping is tinkering.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Privatisation of the commons always results in the collapse of society.

          This is a lesson that we need to learn from history and not one that we can keep on ignoring as poverty gets ever worse.

          • Enough is Enough

            Not that I necessarily disagree with your statement, but do you have an example of where the nationalisation of all private land has created a sustainable society?

            • Draco T Bastard

              Have you got an example of where privatisation of the commons has ever actually worked and not destroyed society?

              Remember, it’s privatisation that’s removed resources from the commons and thus allowing a few to control everyone else.

              • Enough is Enough

                No I don’t.

                Now back to my question?

                • Why?

                  You’ve just admitted that privatisation is the problem not keeping the nations resources in the hands of the nation.

                  We’re in the position of having to undo the mistake of privatisation.

              • Richard Christie

                “Privatisation of the commons always results in the collapse of society.”

                “do you have an example of where the nationalisation of all private land has created a sustainable society?”

                “Have you got an example of where privatisation of the commons has ever actually worked and not destroyed society?”


                Here’s my logical fallacy in reply to yours.

          • Ad

            We had a spectacular nationalisation of land to the state in the 1870s. We’re living with that still as cultural genocide.

        • Antoine

          > This government should promise never to sell it to foreigners



          • SpaceMonkey

            Because they are not of this land. If they want to purchase land, invest themselves physically in NZ as one of us – become a NZ citizen.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Because it’s detrimental to the people who actually live here and turning them into serfs.

          • tracey

            Can you explain the benefits to NZ of being one of the only nations allowing such sales?

            • Antoine

              Why do we think about the benefits to NZers only?

              • Because they’re the only ones we’re responsible to.

              • tracey

                Who are you thinking of that isnt a nzer and why?

                • Antoine

                  Well, like a foreigner who wants to buy some land here. Do we ignore all benefits to them, and think only of benefits to New Zealanders? Are foreigners not people, do we not care about them?

                  Would you judge our refugee policy only on the benefits to (current) NZers? Our climate change policy? Our aid programme?


                  • weka

                    Lolz, you’re arguing that we should sell land to people who live overseas because we care about them? Why not just open our borders then? Or give away all our assets? I’m just taking this line to the extreme quickly so we can establish that nationality means something. If you want to argue that there should be no nation states, go ahead, but otherwise sovereignty has meaning.

                    • Antoine

                      I’m (now, mostly) arguing that “benefits to NZ” is not always the best yardstick for evaluating policy decisions. I don’t think you’d disagree with that, in the general case?


                  • Stuart Munro

                    Most countries do not allow foreigners to purchase land. Why should NZ allow these rogues to do so here?

                    If they are interested enough to become citizens, fine. But if not they lack a commitment to the place which is likely to make them less responsible.

                  • weka

                    tbh I have no idea what you are arguing. You’ve just said that NZ shouldn’t restrict land sales out of fairness to people that aren’t NZers. Or something. I don’t know why you think that because you haven’t said.

                    • Antoine

                      > You’ve just said that NZ shouldn’t restrict land sales out of fairness to people that aren’t NZers.

                      Sure. Two people want to buy a piece of land. As it happens, both will take equally good care of it. One is a New Zealand citizen, the other isn’t. Why would you only want to sell to the first person? Is it fair to discriminate against the second? Are they a worse or less deserving individual?


                    • weka

                      I’ve already addressed this. Unless you are arguing for open borders and no states, nations have the right to make rules for their own citizens not for everyone else in the world.

                      If you are asking what sovereignty is in relationship to land, then I suggest you read up about colonisation.

                      One easy example of why NZ should be protecting land for NZers is that land prices here have skyrocketed in part because of overseas money (cash availability, beneficial exchange rates). So we now have many NZers who cannot afford to buy land because it is so expensive.

                      “As it happens, both will take equally good care of it.”

                      I wrote a post about it, if you still don’t know what I think, try reading it again.

    • weka 2.2

      I’m guessing your question is based in an ideological divide around state ‘assets’. Personally I believe that the govt should own things crucial to the country as a whole and in that sense count land the same as something like rail. On the other side of the ideological divide is National who believe that the government shouldn’t do anything that can be done by business. Problem is, with farming we’ve just had a 30 year demonstration of why farming shouldn’t be left to the private sector.

      More specifically around Landcorp, there are all these farmers in NZ that think it’s ok to pollute, and apparently there are also all these farmers in NZ that now don’t know how to run a commercial farm without wrecking things. Landcorp should be the leader on how to do that (and from what I can tell is doing that to an extent and has a good potential to do that in significantly meaningful ways beyond the neoliberal imperative to make money).

      • Ad 2.2.1

        You could break Landcorp up into a thousand smaller farms at reasonable price for local farmers otherwise shut out forever, and have a thousand model farms.

        • weka

          How would that make them model farms? Presumably once they’re sold the farmers can do what they like with it, just like every other farmer in NZ.

          I think using Landcorp land to get NZers into serious farming is a great idea. Don’t need to sell the land to do that though.

          • mikesh

            It has long been my belief that the country´s land belongs ultimately to all of us, and that if we need to countenance private ownership, and I think we do, then that ownership should be conditional. This would be the justification for such things as land taxes, zoning for specific purposes, compulsory purchase for public works, and of course banning overseas sales of land.

        • Molly

          Your suggestion for smaller, sustainable farms could work if the land was offered at leasehold rates. The leasehold could then be dependent on particular farming methodologies and practices, outcomes and solutions adding to the knowledge of sustainable farming in NZ.

          Smaller farmers have an opportunity to transition to sustainable farm practices, and the knowledge pool collected by Landcorp to aid those transitions becomes bigger.

          As the farms became more and more sustainable the lease rates are reduced, or a profit share model for leasing comes into play.

          Releasing the land into private hands, and then crossing your fingers that future owners will act responsibly, does not seem to have worked in the past, and is unlikely to work in the future.

          • weka

            “Releasing the land into private hands, and then crossing your fingers that future owners will act responsibly, does not seem to have worked in the past, and is unlikely to work in the future.”

            That’s a good way of putting it.

          • tracey

            That was well put. Thanks.

          • Ad

            The state’s record is worse.
            Cruel, arbitrary, racist, cheap, and otherwise modelled from Aussie low density runs. Landcorp is now an exemplar, but so are many others.

            The Liberals did this country a huge favour from 1890 to 1914 breaking up the massive Canterbury runs by law and redistributing them to hundreds of eager farmer families. That’s over a century before dairy acceleration in the mid 2000s.

            • weka

              Sure, but this isn’t the 1800s. And look how that break up eventually ended up. NZers increasingly can’t afford to buy rural land now. The state selling off its land, a one off sale, then adds that land into the churn of the property market and on and on the price increases go. It might give a few Kiwis an entry into that market at this time, but then that’s over and we’re still in the same situation of people not being able to afford to farm.

              So that’s actually another reason to not sell. Giving Kiwis a pathway to becoming farmers is a different thing and doesn’t require the selling of land.

              I don’t have a particular argument around the parcel portions that state land should be. I would expect that to vary depending on what kind of farm it is and what the govt was trying to do e.g. leading the way on small farming would be great. There’s nothing wrong with large stations either.

            • marty mars

              Yep smaller parcels able to be bought unless you were Māori or mainly unless – they had tribal lands lol – yep the runs cut up and given to their trench buddies were the stolen/taken tribal lands – same basic scenario as after the NZ Wars – and so the circle cycles…

        • tracey

          NZ was broken into thousands of affordable farms once and we ended up with stuffed waterways in a lot of NZ.

          • Ad

            You just skipped 110 years of causality.
            Wonderfully woolly leap though.

            • boggis the cat

              No, the reference is clearly to the severe negative impact from conversion of sheep farms to dairying. The complete lack of consideration of the difference in ‘externalities’ between the two types of activity has led to large swathes of the country suffering extensive environmental damage, with a massive cost to rectify the problems.

              This type of issue isn’t a surprise, either. Plenty of academics and ‘special interests’ knew how this would play out and were warning about it, but they got drowned out by those pushing short-sighted greed.

            • tracey

              Glad Boggis has a depth of thinking that escapes you

        • Draco T Bastard

          With all the increased administration and bureaucracy that goes with them and another ten thousand people still wanting farms.

          At what point do you realise that having lots of tiny farms is just wasting resources and skill and still won’t provide for all the people who want their own farm?

        • Keepcalmcarryon

          Ad many/most of the farms will be uneconomic if split up. It is ny understanding that this is one reason the government held ownership.

      • Angel FIsh 2.2.2

        Farmers don’t pollute, the animals they raise do.
        And the animals excrete an insane amount of waste products.
        It’s innately unsustainable. Ultimately the customers are to be blamed.
        They are the ones who make a demand for such a nasty product.

        • Macro

          Just one immense fault in your logic there…
          The product is mostly exported.
          The customers are overseas dairy companies – like they give a cow pat?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Farmers don’t pollute, the animals they raise do.


          It’s possible to raise animals in such a way as to live within the ecological limits. Also, animals don’t drive the trucks that farmers use nor burn the coal that the farmers use for drying milk nor dig up the petrochemicals to produce the artificial fertilisers that farmers use on the land.

          It’s innately unsustainable.

          Done properly it can be sustainable.

          They are the ones who make a demand for such a nasty product.

          No, it’s our culture and economic system that raises greed as something to admire rather than recognising it it as the destructive force that it is.

          It we only produced enough food in NZ for NZ we’d be able to decrease the amount of land used for farming and go to those sustainable methods.

        • McFlock


          The mere existence of demand for a good or service removes all moral agency from the supplier?

          Contract killers will be gratified to hear that.

        • JC

          ” Farmers dont pollute. The animals they raise do ….

          “As with a wonder drug that only later you discover has terrible side effects, the Haber-Bosch process opened up a Pandora’s Box of problems. By exploiting in a single century energy built up over millennia, we have radically altered the ecological balance of agricultural systems.”


    • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.3

      Why not?

      This way the state (if it chooses) can pay people properly and when the farm does well, the entire nation directly benefits.

    • Antoine 2.4

      > Why does the state own and operate a farm?

      Some mix of:
      (a) For purely historical reasons
      (b) Because they do a good job of it, and
      (c) Because some land is particularly sensitive and cannot be sold by the Govt and something needs to be done with it in the meantime?


  3. Frida 3

    Weka, in this kind of situation, environmental protections would (and do) become crucial to the test the OIO has to apply. Because there is an alternative NZ purchaser, the OIO will focus on what the overseas purchaser can give to NZ that the NZ purchaser can’t. This is likely to be Walking Commission and DOC requirements around walking access, protection of flora and fauna, that the OIO can then enforce via conditions on consent.

    Not saying this to defend overseas purchases, just explaining how the Act works.

    • cleangreen 3.1

      Frida the history speaks for inself does it not?

      When you could look at the history of the OIO acceptance/rejections of the list of foriegn buyers, you may find their record of rejections is shockingly very small compared to the acceptances, as this was reported in the press back during the highly contraversial attempted sale to a ‘reportly’ shoddy chinese company of the Taupo sale of “Lockinvar Station which was another Government holding that recieved massive amounts of taxpayer funding for the establishmant of forestry and agriculture on marginal soils but y Government under John key it was sold off to private interests without
      anything being returned to the taxpayers!!!!!!


      With no access to the any agreements made beteen OIO and buyers we are very weak and left to be exploited here in NZ.

      There must be a transperant public madia scrutiny system of opening up of any foriegn buyers establishments made in other countries they operate also, as that we all may reveal bad practices they had made elsewhere.

      This is just common sense policy.

    • weka 3.2

      Thanks Frida, I understand that, I just think it’s a neoliberal add on. An improvement on what’s happening with other rural land for sure, and there is potential for the new govt to improve the existing system further, but it’s still not going to protect the land very well. Is there anything to stop either of the buyers in the Jericho case from converting to dairy?

      This is what I mean about mainstream NZ’s values being around using the land. It’s ok for the land to be misused so long as NZers can still walk there and there’s some tree planting going on. I don’t mean to sound so disparaging, I’m aware of some land in NZ that is owned offshore that has some very good things happening on it because of the values of the owners and I’m sure the OIO process is helping with that. What I’m suggesting is that the government should be leading on transition to sustainable farming as a baseline. I don’t see the OIO as doing that currently.

      • Frida 3.2.1

        Hi weka. Yes I totally agree. I’d rather the whole legislation was repealed!! I was just pointing out how it currently works in terms of SOME environmental protections.

        In answer to your query – if consent was granted on one basis, then it was desired to convert to dairy and that was never part of the original consent, then consent to vary conditions would be needed and the “alternative NZ purchaser/benefit to NZ” test would need to be run again. I think that’s how it works. Definitely wouldn’t be able to just convert to dairy without notifying OIO – that would be in breach and could lead to an order to divest.

        • weka

          Thanks, always good to have more details.

          Would there be any requirements on the NZ buyer?

          • Frida

            @weka – only those that exist in general law. i.e. no specific oversight at present of the sort of things that OIO can condition (walking access, protection of flora and fauna etc)

            • weka

              Odd really. So for an overseas buyer to get permission, they have to do certain things re the environment, but a NZer can buy the same land and wreck it. Pretty much sums up NZ society’s values currently.

              • tracey

                Yes and bear in mind the same is true with investory caregory migrants. They promised to invest a few million. Get PR. some then say they will build, say, a hotel. They move to get citizenship before project underway. Get it. Ten years later still no hotel but a tidy citizenship. Easy way round woukd be we can confiscate the money used to support the appkication and revoke citizenshio. But we havent. Cos it is citizenship and PR for sale… BUT if they dont follow through the investment they really got it for free.

                • Antoine

                  Would be much better if there was resource and will to follow up all commitments made by people investing/migrating


                  • tracey

                    It is not about resource it is about political will. Investor category are smallest in number and usually easiest to trace.

                • cleangreen

                  Very true tracey

                  The OIO have no continual checking facility to penalise these errant ghost owners as they have just been found in cases to cheat the system that is so slack now.

                  • Frida

                    @cleangreen, they do. They monitor conditions yearly. It is probably a resourcing thing I suspect.

                    • tracey

                      We are talking at cross purposes. I am not referring to OIO deals but high value Investor Category Migrants who buy PR

                    • cleangreen

                      yes tracey is correct,

                      We have seen already where the deep dark institutional investors such as some foriegn pension funds are buying large holdings where the OIO cannot get any information out of these large investment organisations now .

                      Due to their rules of ‘investor secrecy clause agreements’ with the investors.

                      So it an indemic isue that the former National Government should have gotten sorted before allowing these large foriegn offshore investments we invited in here, in the first place.

                • Craig H

                  Why bother with a bogus commercial hotel investment when applying under the investor category – much easier just to stick the money in government bonds or a managed fund for the required time frame, both of which are acceptable investments.

                  Entrepreneur category seems a more likely fit for the hotel scenario, but the plan would only get a temporary visa first. To get the resident visa, the entrepreneur has to prove they actually did what their business plan said they would, so they would struggle to meet the requirements.

              • Frida

                @weka. Yep, pretty much

  4. Well written, weka. Here’s a spanner for the works: what if the Jericho Station was inside of one of the oil and gas blocks recently offered (it is) and China had designs on that resource but needed a site to build a refinery on? 🙂
    Or, what if a fresh, clean river flowed through the farm (it does) and there was a desire “elsewhere” for such a source of safe drinking water?
    Just ruminating.

    • weka 4.1

      I was wondering about that for the oil block too. Not sure if that risk applies to NZ owners too though. The water one certainly does.

  5. DH 5

    IMO there’s a need to cut all the bullshit and admit that foreign ownership was always about increasing the price of land and enriching land owners. There is no commercial benefit in higher land prices, that pushes up rents which seriously impacts on productivity and competitiveness in local & international markets.

    Every economist knew that more buyers would equal higher prices. Land is a finite resource, the only possible outcome from inviting more people to buy land here is higher prices for it.

    I used to attend a lot of auctions and what’s unfolded in NZ was entirely predictable. The worst scenario is when you get two deep pocket foreign buyers chasing the same property. A single foreign buyer only needs to pay $1 more than the highest local bidder but when you get two (or more) foreign bidders they can drive the price up to astronomical heights. The seller pockets a tidy sum and often proceeds to bid up the price of their dream purchase.

    I’m doubtful it will be possible to ban foreign buyers, they’ll just go through local proxies, but it’s still worth a try.

    • cleangreen 5.1

      1000% DH. You nailed it there.

      It is human greed that we saw in the last nine years that we now face.

      The new government must change this weakness the OIO showed us, and move strongly to protect our future generations for their chance to feel/realise to be part of their/our country.

      That is our legacy as it is Winston’s, as we all need to be good custodians for our future generations health and well being.

      “Pay it forward”.

    • I’m doubtful it will be possible to ban foreign buyers, they’ll just go through local proxies, but it’s still worth a try.

      The government should ban it and if any local proxies get used to try to hide foreign ownership we renationalise the land, jail the proxies and give no compensation.

    • Skyler 5.3

      Well said.

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    I’d like to see a foreign divestment program for land. Non-resident foreigners should not own property here, and a mechanism to sell or the government will compulsorily purchase after a reasonable period seems a good way to proceed. The OIO must be sacked, they’re such a joke they allowed a New Zealand farm to be sold and owned by bearer bonds – there’s no way of evaluating purchasers of that kind. Reversing the offshore land sales of the last decade would be a good place to begin.

    • Non-resident foreigners should not own property here, and a mechanism to sell or the government will compulsorily purchase after a reasonable period seems a good way to proceed.


      The OIO must be sacked, they’re such a joke they allowed a New Zealand farm to be sold and owned by bearer bonds – there’s no way of evaluating purchasers of that kind.

      If they did that (link?) then they do need to be sacked for incompetence. Actually, considering the many stories of incompetence over the last few years just simply sack them.

    • weka 6.2

      What would you do about the offshore owned land that is being better managed environmentally than similar land by NZers?

      • Put in place laws that would ensure that all the land is better managed.

        Just because it’s being better managed by offshore owners doesn’t make foreign ownership viable.

        • weka

          Yes, I’m just noticing the people arguing against overseas ownership and ignoring the environmental issues. Stuart just argued for NZ buying land back from overseas owners. There are farms in NZ now that I think would be run worse if bought back (depending on who bought them). The point of the post was to say that it’s not enough to look at the overseas land ownership issue in isolation.

          • Frida

            Weka +100. Crafar Farms being a case in point!

          • Draco T Bastard

            That’s why we have laws – to ensure that standards are maintained. If the laws are good then it wouldn’t make any difference who farmed the land which just leaves the fact that foreign ownership is bad.

            • weka

              Yes, and the reasons we don’t have adequate laws are the same reasons that we allow overseas ownership and the govt wants to sell of state farms. I’m making deeper connections here.

      • Stuart Munro 6.2.2

        First I’d like to see some proof – but I wouldn’t distinguish. These are different wrongs, and environmental responsibility doesn’t earn a free pass on local ownership. Environmentally responsible land management is another and very substantial issue that I would not want to allow to become a loophole.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          Managing land in an environmentally responsible manner shouldn’t be left to random chance of ownership. It should simply be a regulated requirement.

        • weka

          Do you mean you want examples of farms owned offshore where the owners have improved the land environmentally compared to the previous owners?

          Try this – Motatapu Station as part of a wider group of adjacent land,




          • Stuart Munro

            The idea that ownership of land comes with a responsibility to sustain and improve it is not really remarkable, but doesn’t presently have much recognition in the likes of commercial law.

            It is less an iron-handed than a partnership approach that the state or community should take here – whereby sustainable improvement options are suggested and in some instances funded or partially funded. Had MAF had such an approach back in the day we might’ve saved a few fisheries – and the local jobs that went with them. Tasman scallops seem to need to be revived for example, and moving away from trawling (except for inshore flatfish) in favour of lower impact or live capture would’ve been responsible. Of course such a sophisticated long term approach cannot survive neo-liberal cheese paring or subversion of kind practiced by corrupt persons such as Tony Ryall or Gerry Brownlee.

            But reversing foreign ownership remains a necessary step.

            • weka

              I agree about the approach. I think of it in terms of regulation and cultural change via education, advisors, R and D etc. But I also think it’s about the values of NZ, and I suspect the only way to Tory-proof it is if NZ shifts its values to give land nature rights.

              Reversing land ownership is a good idea.

              • Antoine

                > Reversing land ownership is a good idea.

                We ain’t going to reverse foreign land ownership any time soon. A Labour government won’t do it. Too bad for business confidence and foreign relations. Probably inconsistent with our international agreements.


                • weka

                  There’s no reason the Crown can’t have first crack at buying if a property comes on the market (and allowing for Treaty process).

                  • Antoine

                    For sure. I bet that’s not what Stuart had in mind, though.

                    (Edit: also it sounds expensive)


                    • weka

                      Sure, but then you sounded like you were agin the idea entirely irrespective of the processes Stuart had in mind.

                    • Antoine

                      I presumed Stuart meant “reversing ALL foreign land ownership by fiat”, possibly with a side order of “putting the owner in the stocks”. I’m agin that. I’m not necessarily against the Govt purchasing specific pieces of land when they come up for sale. Depending on the land, the price, etc etc.


                    • weka

                      I took him to mean that the government required the land to be sold back to them, allowing a reasonable length of time for owners to adjust their investment plans. Nothing about putting overseas owners in stocks, I think that’s your reaction against nationalisation getting a bit carried away.

                    • Antoine

                      Just based on past experience of Stuart’s views

                    • Stuart Munro

                      Perhaps you should confine your reckons to things I have actually stated – you really have no idea what I think, and your surmises are among the most worthless I have ever seen – your inanity with respect to the Christchurch rebuild was frankly breathtaking.

                      Stocks are neither here nor there, and insofar as anyone deserves them it is not foreign buyers but the treacherous weasels of NZ politicians who have promoted and encouraged sale of land, forests, and fisheries offshore. An act manifestly inconsistent with their duties to protect and forward NZ interests.

                      The capital sums involved would be appreciable, so reverting would need to be relatively gradual. This would give these unwelcome investors an opportunity to divest spontaneously without the losses associated with a forced sale.

                      My views of you, “Antoine” is that you a just another troll, with never a link to validate your fatuous opinions, pouring scorn on a forum that is concerned to air possible ways to reduce the impact on NZers of thirty years of neo-liberal inspired misgovernance. Your contribution lacks weight.

                • Stuart Munro

                  What we will or will not do is less of interest in a policy discussion than what we might or should do.

                  As for business confidence, that’s a shibboleth that should not be given excessive consideration: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/opinion/krugman-death-of-a-fairy-tale.html?_r=0

                  • weka

                    “What we will or will not do is less of interest in a policy discussion than what we might or should do.”


                  • Antoine

                    Sorry for trying to introduce some reality to the discussion!

                    • Stuart Munro

                      Your contact with reality is like ships passing in the night.

                    • tracey

                      By reality you mean the version of it you think is right…

                    • Antoine

                      > By reality you mean the version of it you think is right…

                      Well obviously.

                      My original point was that “We ain’t going to reverse foreign land ownership any time soon. A Labour government won’t do it. Too bad for business confidence and foreign relations. Probably inconsistent with our international agreements.”

                      Therefore, I don’t think there’s much value in talking about nationalisation of all foreign owned land, because it isn’t going to happen. I could, as always, be wrong, but I ain’t seen a convincing refutation.

                      Of course there’s nothing to stop people from yakking about implausible scenarios.


                    • Stuart Munro

                      It’s a small step from ending foreign land sales to reverting them – part of the same logical trend. You think it’s implausible but then, you’re the kind of credulous idiot who thinks Gerry Brownlee was generous to the red zoners.

                      Your opinion is less than worthless.

                    • Antoine

                      > It’s a small step from ending foreign land sales to reverting them

                      On the contrary, a very large step. For one thing, it means either confiscation of private property, or spending lots of $$$.


                    • weka

                      “I don’t think there’s much value in talking about nationalisation of all foreign owned land, because it isn’t going to happen”

                      One of the main reasons I write at TS is to provide space and opportunity for people to talk about issues beyond what the mainstream is currently thinking or doing. Change of the kind being talked about here happens from the edge. Centrists are by definition people value the status quo.

                      I’d be happy to explain how radicals affect the dominant position held by centrists and shift culture/society over time, but only if I see a genuine interest. If you are uncomfortable with people talking about things that you can’t see as possible, you are welcome to step out of the conversation. Arguing against people discussing things that you can’t see as possible is likely to piss people off and then that will get moderator attention.

                      Stuart made a very pertinent point,

                      “What we will or will not do is less of interest in a policy discussion than what we might or should do.”

                      This is one of the ways that change happens. People who care get together and talk through what needs to be different, and why, and how that can be achieved. Critique in those conversations is useful, naysaying is likely to be scorned (which I think is what you are getting here).

                    • weka

                      “On the contrary, a very large step. For one thing, it means either confiscation of private property, or spending lots of $$$.”

                      How has the Crown facilitated Māori regaining land from private owners? Please cite the property confiscations and large amounts of money spent.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      A large step for you because it strains your frankly negligible intellectual capabilities.

                      Foreign investment in NZ was an ideological imposition predicated on providential technology or capital transfers. For investments in farming however there was no higher technology coming in, and investors have proven to be extractive rather than generous. De facto much of the support for foreign buyers has been from farmers wishing to realize a capital profit well in excess of the local value and essentially beyond the means of chronically underpaid local workers.

                      Since it is now recognized that the old pre-neoliberal position was correct in deterring foreign ownership, it is perfectly sensible to reverse especially the recent poor value sales decisions made by the corrupt and ineffectual Key/English government.

                      The money simply isn’t an issue for government – these are real assets, the government can print to recover them as it did for SCF or Savage’s housing. The saving is the profit which no longer directly leaves the country worsening our already negative balance of payments.

                    • Antoine

                      > How has the Crown facilitated Māori regaining land from private owners? Please cite the property confiscations and large amounts of money spent.

                      I’m not about to come around here and argue about Treaty settlements, I do have some sense of decorum (not to mention self preservation).


                    • weka

                      And yet you just argued that we can’t restore land ownership in NZ without doing x, y, z despite us already having been through this process before with the Treaty by doing a, b, c.

                      Sidestep all you like. What I see is a centrist who doesn’t like ideas of nationalisation making arguments that don’t work to push back against their discomfit.

                    • Antoine

                      Sidestep I certainly will, I’m not talking smack about the Treaty on here.

                    • weka

                      I’m not actually asking you to talk about the Treaty, and the sidestepping isn’t around the Treaty it’s around you being challenged on your idea that shifting NZ land back into NZ ownership could only happen in specific way. It was a false argument, and you won’t address that.

                    • Antoine

                      > you being challenged on your idea that shifting NZ land back into NZ ownership could only happen in specific way

                      That wasn’t my idea. I appreciate that there are multiple ways to skin a cat. What I said is that all of them “mean either confiscation of private property, or spending lots of $$$”. I am still of that view. If you can show me a case where “the Crown [has] facilitated Māori regaining [large amounts of] land from private owners”, without lots of $$$ being spent, I might change my opinion.


                    • weka

                      Not sure what you mean by large amounts of money. Where previous governments have sold assets, it’s normal for the govt to later re purchase them at market rates e.g. Air NZ.

                      Here’s the Treaty first right of refusal process,


                      I don’t see why laws can’t be passed that when land owned by overseas people is up for sale, it has to be sold to NZers*. Where the land is considered critical for the commons or other good of the Crown, the Crown can have first right of refusal.

                      *presumably this is what would happen if Labour’s foreign ownership law is applies to rural land.

                    • Sam aka clump

                      It was inevitable that the English language would become New Zealand’s working language. But we must not except a foreign language as New Zealand’s primary language. Because if we do that then there is nothing special about New Zealand. Then any one can show up and claim to be a resident with out consideration of the resources involved, the price distortions on students exiting the education system only to find a foreigner just happened to show up to work one day. And the policies around New Zealand’s open door economy.

                      So if we except that the English Language is the working Language. And that Māori is the native tongue. And teach English in schools as the working language. And teach Te Reo in school as a special achievement. Those students will be better equipped to go out and learn other languages, and they can continue to learn other languages as a special achievement. So when they communicate with there friends over what’s going on in the Tele or talk to each other about a magazine in another language. They will know what we mean we we say to them in English. ‘Be kind to one and other, don’t get mad at them, try and understand them.’ Then we will be able to accept the children of immigrants into culturally appropriate education. And it wouldn’t matter who came through Auckland Airport.

                      And as for trade. Well trade will have been enabled and maybe we just might cure the melting pot in one generation.

                    • Antoine

                      > Not sure what you mean by large amounts of money. Where previous governments have sold assets, it’s normal for the govt to later re purchase them at market rates e.g. Air NZ.

                      That’s right, so if you want to purchase a great deal of land at the market rate, you will have to spend a great deal of money. Is my point.

                      (And it may not be possible to recoup the money through the income produced off the land, as the market rate may substantially exceed the value of the income stream. I suspect much NZ farmland falls into this category.)


                    • Sam aka clump

                      Or you could wait for farms to go bust and buy em for pennies on the dollar 😁

                      Plenty of for closures around.

          • Antoine

            > examples of farms owned offshore where the owners have improved the land environmentally compared to the previous owners

            I see these examples and wonder “then why shouldn’t more farms be owned offshore?”


            • weka

              The point of the post was to suggest that the environmental, sovereignty, and commons issues intertwine. I think the sovereignty issues are pretty well understood (and assume you know what they are).

    • Skyler 6.3

      Great idea.

  7. As it is, NZ’s policy has been to favour economics.

    No it hasn’t. It’s been to favour money and profits.

    There is some attention paid to environmental issues, but they’re tagged on rather than being intrinsic.

    Which is all the proof needed to show that profits have been favoured over economics.

    Failing to consider the ecology and the services that it does for us, as we’ve been doing, is uneconomic. So much so that it will result in death.

  8. JustMe 8

    It’s kind of weird but we NZers cannot buy land in China because of the laws over there.
    Equally perhaps we cannot buy land in say Saudi Arabia even though many millions of NZ taxpayers money went to a Saudi businessman as a bribe in a shonKey sheep deal.
    An American with links to Donald Trump obtained ‘instant Kiwi citizenship’ having been in the country a mere(I think)12 days. We(our family)have lived in NZ since December 1962. We were not accepted for NZ citizenship until the mid 70s.
    But in todays’ day and age all one needs to do especially if that ‘one’ has plenty of money is donate to the National Party when it was in government and in return they get citizenship.
    I now get the impression the previous National government coveted money especially for themselves personally than NZers. Especially taking into consideration that John Key, Bill English and Paula Bennett disparaged and demeaned NZers at every opportunity when it suited them.
    Whenever NZers demonstrated against a ‘deal’ John Key would disparage them(the protestors)and call them ‘rent a protestor’. Bill English has called NZers as being ‘pretty damned useless’. And Paula Bennett breached beneficiaries right to privacy by providing their names to the NZ media. But to add insult to further injury she boasted she would do it again. And she probably did when it came to Winston’s pension matter being made public.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 8.1

      It’s what happens when you allow private power and wealth to override all else, including public good and sovereignty.

    • Antoine 8.2

      > But in todays’ day and age all one needs to do especially if that ‘one’ has plenty of money is donate to the National Party when it was in government and in return they get citizenship.

      You mean Labour, right? We are talking about Bill Liu here??

      > now get the impression the previous National government coveted money especially for themselves personally than NZers

      Where is your evidence that any National MP took money for themselves personally in exchange for residency, citizenship or any other immigration matter?

      The only example I can think of is Taito Phillip Field (also Labour).


      • Stuart Munro 8.2.1

        Bill Liu is a scoundrel and a Gnat donor and agitator – but Peter Thiel is the most egregious wrong – doesn’t and never will live here, only here to rip us all off. Courtesy of the rip-off artist in chief, the utterly execrable John Key.

        • Antoine

          > Bill Liu is a scoundrel and a Gnat donor and agitator

          Gnat AND LABOUR donor thanks Stuart


          • Stuart Munro

            I notice you’ve no defense of Thiel though:

            We yield our town and lives to thy soft mercy.
            Enter our gates; dispose of us and ours;
            For we no longer are defensible.

            • Antoine

              Why would i defend Thiel?

              • Stuart Munro

                Why not – it’s your m.o. – contradict everyone, treat your unsupported reckons (which are consistently off planet Key) as on a par or rather above any evidence, and expect us to be grateful for your trolling. We’ve seen better come and go.

          • tracey

            National didnt move to change anythi g to ensure Investor Migrants actually invested as promised. This is not a Nat or Lab issue. It is both Nat and Lab govts took money in this category with almost mo accountability. Other than dotcom but you know how those Nats hate copyright infringements so they had to act hard on that one.

            • Antoine

              The best solution would be to depoliticise it – Remove the involvement of Ministers in individual immigration cases.


              • Stuart Munro

                Or you could simply appoint ministers not disposed to make corrupt use of a discretion that should be restricted to public interest and compassionate use. Honest people.

                • Antoine

                  That’s great until you lose the election and the other side gets in.

                  Better to depoliticise and get Ministers of both sides out of it.


                  • tracey

                    Again, how? Who appoints your CEO of Immigration? Who removes politics from the minds of those appointed? Who ensures no biases in Immigration employees? Who takes away the cowardice of most employees to not rock the boat when someone is not following the rules. Next you will say there should be no politics in sport.

                    2 people in a room = politics.

                    • Antoine

                      You are using the word ‘politics’ in the general sense, me in the specific sense of MPs in the NZ Govt.

                      My contention is that MPs should not be involved in resolving specific immigration cases. Only Ministry employees should do this. I don’t see any of your objections above as refuting this proposal.


                    • Stuart Munro

                      @ Antoine

                      That presumes that bureaucracies always get things right.

                      Certainly they do better than the corrupt trash we’ve had for the last nine years – and indeed Labour ministers made numerous errors in respect of well-heeled foreigners too. But minister is a serious job and the discretion, exercised correctly, is a critical part of good governance – a phenomenon largely absent from NZ for the last thirty years.

  9. I’d like landcorp to be a training ground for farmers to learn sustainability and more effective natural ways of farming. For too long the farming model imo has been too mono in systems, in product and in the way farmers interact with the land, animals, environment and their communities. If we want practices to improve we must help farmers existing and new to see a tranisition forward which ensures their survival and sustainability.

    As an aside I hope they rejig invermay – we need more research not less, just directed towards the reality of our climate changing world.

  10. Antoine 10


    You asked: “Why is Landcorp selling the farm at all?”

    A quick Google would have found out the reasons for Landcorp’s sales programme.

    Landcorp sells farms (a) to reduce debt, (b) to get capital to develop other properties, and (c) as part of shutting down operations that are not working out.

    National had also recently announced a plan for Landcorp to hive off farms for young farmers to get started.


    • weka 10.1

      And which of those does Jericho fall into?

      • Antoine 10.1.1

        All of the above (really (a) and (b) are the same thing looked at from different angles).


        • weka

          Do you have a link for that?

          • Antoine

            There are quite a few relevant articles on the web, both about the Jericho sale in particular and the wider sales programme.


            • weka

              I did a google search about Jericho when I was writing the post, I didn’t see much in the way of explanation of why Landcorp is selling that property.

              • Antoine

                Well, we’ve had some discussion about why they shouldn’t or shouldn’t, and how they should if they did, so it worked out well 🙂


                • Stuart Munro

                  Informed as ever by your vacuous opinion and want of judgment.

                  • Antoine


                    • tracey

                      So no link to the several articles that escaped weka’s search?

                    • Antoine

                      Fergawdssake Tracey

                      You guys seem to want to hassle me more than you want to know the actual answers to the questions!

                      Just one example is https://farmersweekly.co.nz/section/sheep-2/view/landcorp-puts-nine-farms-up-for-sale


                      PS It’s not much fun arguing with people who will persistently demand information with the risk that I get banned from the site if I don’t pony up

                    • weka

                      Why would you be a risk of a ban? Genuinely curious where you got that from.

                      If you have already looked something up, then why not link to it to support your argument? You made a claim up thread, I had no idea what it was based on. It’s reasonable on a political debate site to ask for references.

                    • tracey

                      Because Antoine you seem to constantly demand why of others and counter others with statements that you could, seemingly easily verify, but do not. That leads to people doubting the veracity of your statement.


                • weka

                  I think the question is relevant in that I don’t know much about the culture of Landcorp. Maybe the people running it think selling off the land is good? Or not. Likewise, apart from National’s policy release earlier in the year, I don’t know how much direction the SOE gets from the Minister on this.

                  • Antoine

                    > Maybe the people running it think selling off the land is good?

                    I think they’re happy to modify their portfolio a bit from time to time, with caution as it tends to be controversial. However there are some bits that they can’t sell.

                    > apart from National’s policy release earlier in the year, I don’t know how much direction the SOE gets from the Minister on this.

                    You can see the Letters of Expectation from the Shareholding Minister here: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/statesector/commercial/portfolio/bytype/soes/landcorp-farming


    • McFlock 10.2

      A and B are directly down to government funding decisions, and there’s no evidence for C.

      So the question “why” remains.

  11. David C 11

    Well the government needs 1,000,000 Ha of land to plant all these new trees on…so all the Landcorp land would be a start I suppose.
    Chop off the best bits of the farms , do a few rezoning applications and you will have 10,000 Ha of residential land to build the 100,000 houses on too. Easy really.

    • Macro 11.1

      At least 30 000 hectares of land has been converted from plantation forest to pasture in the central North Island of New Zealand between 2000 and 2010.
      The conversion on pumice soils was economically as well as environmentally stupid – so yeah there is a third of the 100,000 hectares right there.

      • David C 11.1.1

        IIRC far more than 30,000 Ha was sold off to the USA under Helens rule back when that huge forestry deal was done.

        I wont comment on the environmental impacts but as a land developer I was jealous of the 10’s of KMs of riparian rights that was sold for peanuts.

  12. Bill 12

    Neither the state nor a private individual or company should own any land.

    All land ought to be controlled by local populations/communities and all people potentially impacted by any proposal to do with the land, afforded appropriate levels of input to any discussions/decisions around the proposal.

    I know, I know. Democracy. A step too far.

    • David C 12.1

      Wow Bill.
      You dont yearn to own your own potato patch?

    • Incognito 12.2

      I know, I know. Democracy. A step too far.

      Participatory democracy; one small step too far for man or a giant leap for mankind? [rhetorical]

      You’ve got my vote!

  13. KJT 13

    Then there is the whole “tenure review” process.
    Wealthy station owners were allowed to buy the public land they were leasing.
    Which they are now on-selling to private offshore buyers, usually for many times more than they paid.

    The whole thing was a disgustingt example of National Government cronyism/Theft.

    The Government should have first refusal at the original price, plus inflation and any improvements.

    • weka 13.1


      I’m pretty sure that Jericho Station went through tenure review but I couldn’t find the details on it online.

      • tracey 13.1.1

        Antoine might know 😉

        • weka


          • Antoine

            You guys are just being snarky now

            • weka

              Sorry. I thought tracey’s comment was funny given you’d been trying to tell me to use google with the implication that the information was there if I just looked for it. I write posts with references, I know how to use google. But there is also a limit to how much time I can spend on things. I rely on commenters for information too, and if someone has links I think it’s useful for the debate to put them up.

              • weka

                And just to put that in perspective, if someone commented that they couldn’t find the tenure review information for a farm and I knew where it was, it’s likely I would go find a link and post it. That’s how we learn 🙂

    • The whole thing was a disgustingt example of National Government cronyism/Theft.

      That was started by the 5th Labour government.

      The Government should have first refusal at the original price, plus inflation and any improvements.

      the government should simply have cancelled the leases.

  14. Incognito 14

    Very good post! I can see a few important themes emerging and I hope the new Government is also sensing the change in the air, not just in NZ …

  15. timeforacupoftea 15

    Landcorp has been a pretty sick puppy for a few years paying the govt no divi – no tax.
    Landcorp carries forward a tax loss of $46.3 million.

    Landcorp recorded a negative total shareholder return for 2015/16 (also referred to as Total Comprehensive Income) of $2.9 million, including the net operating loss ($9.4 million). The total return was an improvement from the previous year’s negative return of $8.4 million.
    The 2015/16 return included a $7.4 million profit on land sales due to the sale of farm properties. The latest year also included a $23.4 million gain on revaluation of livestock, along with other unrealised gains on revaluation of intangible assets ($5.3 million) and of available-for-sale nancial assets ($3.7 million). These were more than off set by other (unrealised) revaluation losses including a $24.8 million write-down in the value of land and improvements at 30 June 2016.



    This focus extends to a fourth priority – ensuring the best use of the company’s large asset base and its capital resources. Throughout Landcorp’s history we have bought or sold around 140 farms to support strategic goals and to re-deploy capital. We have identified nine farms where Landcorp ownership is inconsistent with company-wide strategies and initiatives. We expect to sell these individual properties in the months ahead.
    Page 14
    Scale back plans for Wairakei Estate land conversion to bovine dairy farming in order to signi cantly reduce environmental impact over time. Other land uses will be explored on the estate including increased dairy support grazing and sheep milk production.
    Operate all farms in line with their Land and Environment Plans which guide decisions on land use, stocking rates, nutrient application and response to measured environmental impacts.
    Phase out palm kernel expeller (PKE) as a feed supplement on all Landcorp dairy farms by 30 June 2017. Use of this feed was down to less than 4% of average total cow diet during 2015/16.
    Continue to take advice from the Environmental Reference Group (ERG) on issues critical to farming and the environment.
    Retire from farming and protect more land of particular sensitivity and/or natural and biodiversity value.
    During 2015/16, a further 250 hectares were retired under covenant (Landcorp now has 6,141 hectares protected by covenants).
    Continue tree planting and improving the e ciency of livestock production towards Landcorp’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2025 (on farms we own). During 2014/15, a further 314 hectares was planted in pinus radiata.
    Develop a sustainability reporting framework for future use in communicating with stakeholders on Landcorp’s environmental and social goals, strategies and outcomes.

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