Chinese Land Deal in New Zealand Sparks Political Storm

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 5, 2014 10:28 AM EST

The acquisition of a big chunk of conservation land by a Chinese company in New Zealand has set off a political storm, reports the New Zealand Herald. Clearly the Opposition parties are angry and targeting Prime Minister John Key for the Lochinver Station farm deal.  

REUTERS
Farmers drive sacks of wheat at Hama countryside in Syria.

Opposition Concern

It was Conservative Party leader Colin Craig who raised the deal at a public event and said foreign purchases of valuable land were a serious matter in an election season. He said no secrecy would be allowed on such matters. The Conservative leader said it was a tragedy to lose that land to foreign business interests and all New Zealanders would share his sentiments.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters also lashed out at the National Party and said the sale was not in the best interests of the country. He said the ruling National party would care the least on that matter as they have been letting in anyone and everyone to buy the houses, land and businesses of New Zealanders.

PM's Stand

Prime Minister John Key in his reaction expressed happiness that the Chinese company bought the North Island farm and followed the due process of law. The Prime Minister told Radio New Zealand that Shanghai Pengxin had already showed its capability in managing the Crafar farms that it bought in 2012 and underpinned New Zealand's jobs.

It is hardly an issue whether the capital came from China or any other country. The question is whether the company had followed the due process or not.

Land Deal

The Lochinver Station in the central North Island has been purchased by Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin.  The deal will now go for the approval of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO). The Chinese company signed a purchase agreement with Stevenson Group for taking over the 13,800 hectare land. The land is valued over $70 million and is ideal for sheep, beef and dairy farming.

According to a Stuff Co NZ report, Stevenson Group will be using the proceeds from the sale to develop its industrial development project in south Auckland.

According to Mark Franklin, the managing director the company, the project will be built around their core business of quarry operations at Drury. The Drury south project will span 220 hectares and may take 15 years to develop. Franklin claimed that the project would create more than 8000 jobs.

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(Photo: REUTERS / /Nour Fourat )
Farmers drive sacks of wheat at Hama countryside in Syria.
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