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Conservation land deal with China’s Shanghai Pengxin revealed

Shanghai Pengxin – the Chinese company currently seeking approval from the Overseas Investment Office to buy one of New Zealand’s largest, most valuable farms – was recently assigned conservation land as part of an earlier land deal, TV3 has revealed.

The conservation property, including seven hectares of the Rakaia riverbed and five hectares of "stewardship land" was signed over by the government when Shanghai Pengxin took a 75% stake in the 4500 hectare Synlait Farms in Canterbury earlier this year.

The revelation prompted New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to vow to buy back strategically important farms sold to foreigners if he's part of the next government.

Mr Peters is trying to make up lost ground on the issue, after Conservative Party leader Colin Craig broke the news on Friday that the OIO was considering the sale of Lochinver Station, a 13,800ha property near Taupo, to Shanghai Pengxi.

In 2012 the government controversially approved the sale of the 16 central North Island Crafar farms, which total almost 8000ha, to the Chinese company.

Federated Farmers has also expressed concern over the proposed Lochinver Station sale.

“Since there is no requirement to publicly notify applications to the OIO, Federated Farmers is frankly uneasy about the potential sale of Lochinver Station to Shanghai Pengxin,” the lobby group says in a release.

“New Zealand absolutely needs foreign investment but it has to be of benefit to the local and national economy.

“That is why a ‘substantial and identifiable benefit’ test was incorporated into the overseas investment decision tree.”

The farmers organisation says the proposed sale highlights the need for research into the extent of foreign investment in New Zealand farmland. Given Lochinver Station’s proximity to the Crafar farms, “it will increase speculation that vertical integration by way of processing could be on the cards”.

What do you think? Should OIO approve the sale of Lochinver Station to Shanghai Pengxin? Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll.

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Comments and questions

Better things for Fed Farmers to do surely than worry about who owns a small slice of NZ's farm land.

Federated Farmers better start preparing its members for the hundreds of millions of dollars (maybe, billions) required from them to clean up their polluting ways and become environmentally friendly.

Now is the time to do it when returns are good and the sector is riding high and enjoying support.

The day will come when dairy farmers are going to have to account for the destruction of our waterways and lakes and foreshores.

Lochinver Station owners are moving fast to get out before the inevitable happens. The Chinese do not yet see it coming so are foolish to pay top price.

Soon they may just decide the risk is not worthwhile.

I have no problem with people of any nationality buying property in NZ. However perhaps when it comes to farmland there should be a better arrangement.
If currently the land is privately owned then the Government of the day buys it, and then leases the land to whoever the foreign national is. The lease can be for 50, 100 years. This way someone like Shanghai Pengxin gets land to farm and the NZ Government gets income from that land for the term of the lease. I suspect this would then keep everyone happy. PS This would apply to all Foreign companies & Foreign Nationals.

Plain common sense, when are you running for office?

Fantastic solution!

Good comment JP. The Chinese had this arrangement with the Brits re: Hong Kong - geese and ganders I say.

Why is it the Governments responsibility again? Why not use Kiwisaver funds to buy the farms and hold them in true New Zealand hands?? Then the environmental concerns - keeping NZ green - would be at the forefront of the stakeholders minds whilst securing NZ land and at the same time good returns for kiwis.

Simple because the Kiwisaver Funds are either controled by Banks, Insurance companies or Fund managers and it would require a myriad of them working together, which would not happen, not just for the reason they could not all agree but the cost charged by each. However if you were to use the NZ superannuation fund, then that requires the Government. It really does matter who controls this and the Government already has Landcorp set up.

Unless these foreigners are dragging pieces of Kiwiland back to their home country, I think we should let the System work. Xenophobic knee jerk reactions are no substitute for cool, calculated Kiwi-welfare oriented decisions. If the foreigners subscribe to our policies and bring in to our community net positive gains, i.e. using our considered social, political, economic, business, environmental criteria, then the deals should go ahead. So far.... I don't seem to hear any cogent well reasoned arguments against these foreigners that point to their buying activities that could harm our national well being. Until then, all are pure political xenophobia and emotional rhetoric reminiscent of bygones years...

Ukraine’s KSG Agro released a statement today, Sept. 24, denying reports that it had reached an agreement to sell 3 million hectares to a Chinese firm. Original (September 23): China has inked a deal to farm three million hectares (paywall), or about 11, 583 square miles of Ukrainian land over the span of half a century—which means the eastern European country will give up about 5% of its total land, or 9% of its arable farmland to feed China’s burgeoning population.