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Peters says he would block sale of Lochinver Station to Chinese

Winston Peters says New Zealand First would block the sale of Lochinver Station, if it’s in government or holds balance of power on cross-benches

“Every New Zealander out there who's looking at this programme can trust my word on this. Not because I say it now, but because I've done it. We would not allow this deal,” says Mr Peters, who was in an MMP coalition with the Helen Clark Labour government at the time NZ's Free Trade Agreement with China was signed.

The NZ First leader was gazumped by Colin Craig on Friday as the Conservative party leader broke the news the Overseas Investment Office was considering the sale of Lochinver to China's Shanghai Pengxin (the buyer of the Crafar Farms). Mr Craig also seized the traditionally NZ First ground of opposing the sale.

Mr Peters sought to regain the intiative during an interview on TV3's The Nation by saying tighter rules on foreign investment would be a bottom-line.“We will not go into any arrangement with any party that think they can go on doing this.That’s it,” he said.

He vowed to buy back strategically important farms sold to foreigners. 

"We'd use the Cullen Fund," says Mr Peters. "We'd use the Kiwi Fund, which we're starting to ensure we got control of our assets back."

The NZ First leader said a million hectares of New Zealand land has been sold to foreign interests since John Key came to power – equal to six Stewart Islands, by his calculation (actually it's closer to four).

He insisted he was not wrong about the Dutch-owned Huka Lodge — which he earlier claimed was being sold to Chinese interests. The Overseas Investment Office says no Huka Lodge deal is on the table.

“I know it’s for sale," Mr Peters said.

What do you think? Should foreign buyers' bids for approval to buy NZ land be made public? Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll.

RAW DATA: TV3/The Nation transcript: Patrick Gower interviews Winston Peters

Patrick Gower: You're back with The Nation. Parliament has barely risen and the campaign curveballs have already started flying. Foreign ownership is suddenly an issue, with Lochinver Station near Taupo up for sale. Crafar Farms owner Shanghai Pengxin has an agreement to buy another 13,000ha of what was marketed as iconic farmland, subject to Overseas Investment Office approval. Conservatives leader Colin Craig broke the story yesterday and promised to block the purchase should he get into government, but what would Winston do? Mr Peters, good morning.

Winston Peters: Good morning.

You heard Steven Joyce there call this station a 'ridiculously small piece of land'. What do you make of that?

Well, he doesn't know anything about the station, obviously, or its size or admit the fact that since he and Mr Key came to power, they've seen sold under them to foreign interests over a million hectares. That's six times the size of Stewart Island. It's not a small piece of area when you look at it that way.

And this farm, obviously, at 70,000ha [ccn: 13,800] is not small either.

It's huge. It's an icon, and people forget that back when it was being developed, there were all sorts of government assistance programmes, like marginal loans, with low concessionary interest rates to help these farms being developed. They bought on a New Zealand-only market; they got New Zealand taxpayer assistance; and now it's going to foreign interests. This is a disaster.

So, we know you're against the sale, but if you got anywhere near power, in some sort of government arrangement with either side, Labour or National, after this election, what would you actually do? What would New Zealand First do about this sale?

Mr Gower, I so believe in this principle that I walked out of a cabinet as a Deputy Prime Minister and treasurer over a strategic asset sale to foreign interests. Why would anyone doubt my word on it?

But could you actually block it with the Overseas Investment Office now? Is this just talk? Could you do anything?

No, no. I don't believe in talk. You know what my credibility or my bona fide on this is. I walked out of cabinet, second post in the country.

I am aware of that. How could you stop this deal now, though? It's in train.

No, no, no. The fact of the matter is it requires OIO approval. The fact is it's a rubber stamp. It's a long way to go, and it won't be approved before the election. I'm pretty certain of that.

So a government minister has to tick that off? Would you go into a government that would be prepared to—

Two ministers.

Two ministers. Would you go into a government that is prepared to sign it off, or not? Or would you say, 'I will not go into a government that will sign off this deal?'

Every New Zealander out there who's looking at this programme can trust my word on this. Not because I say it now, but because I've done it. We would not allow this deal.

OK, so if that's not signed; you're in government, you won't let National ministers sign this off?

If we were on the crossbenches with the balance of power as well, we would stop this deal.

So you can stop this thing?

We believe so, yes. But hang on. One corollary. If the New Zealand people are opposed to this, then they must step up themselves. Don't think they can vote any old way

You would do that. You would— I need you to be really clear on this. You would withdraw an offer of supply or confidence to a National government if they were prepared to tick this off? You would say to them, 'You have to decline this sale— Your ministers have to decline this sale or you don't get us across the line.

You guys know what our position is. We are not selling our soul or this country's soul. And we are against this sale, and we will not be going into any arrangement with any party that think they can go on doing this. That's it. I don't wanna be wasting my time answering these questions, because the serious issue here is— I've answered the question. The serious issue is God's not making any more land. New Zealanders are being shut out of their own country. They can't get 2% interest rates to buy Lochinver. No, no. They're up against a huge competitive interest disadvantage. And all this is going on under the government's nose, that refuses to keep a land and home register; you've got a housing bubble here in Auckland; interest rates going up all over the country. And you think the New Zealand people want this to go on? I don't believe that. And that's why I say — if the people in this country wake up and front up on Election Day, this deal and deals like this and the kind of overseas buying that's going on wholesale in this country will stop. And New Zealand First will make sure it does stop.

OK. And quite a big week for you with John Key killing off your main opposition in Colin Craig.

He wasn't.

He got the break on you yesterday. This is the kinda thing you should be doing. You got it wrong with Huka Falls Lodge; Colin Craig got it right with this station. You're losing your mojo?

No, no. Just stop a second. Who says I got it wrong with Huka Lodge?

I do.

Why don't you call up Mr van Heeren? Have you?

You're saying again that—?

I have sources that you guys don't have.

You're not going back on your—?

Why don't you call up Mr van Heeren and say, 'Is there a sale transaction offer out there now or what?' Or why don't you look in the background of Mr van Heeren's business engagements.

You're still saying Huka Falls Lodge is shifting—?

I know it's for sale.

Comments and questions

Huka Lodge for sale? Mr Peters obviously does not know the meaning of the word 'NO' after he used it to devastating effect to discredit himself with Owen Glenn. Maybe time to go back to Primary School and relearn the English language?

Winston. Is Huka Lodge for sale or sold as you previously stated?
If it is for sale then it is pretty hard for National and John Key to reject a sale that has not happened as was your previous point.

Winston Peters is not a fool. If he says this lodge is for sale then something has been going on behind the scenes that the rest of us don't know.

And yes, it is a relief to hear Winston at last make very plain again what his party has always stood for - putting the interests of New Zealanders ahead of wealthy foreign investors.

The Chinese are now commercially colonising this country. And there is nothing to stop them and other super-rich like James Cameron picking the eyes out of the land, our heritage - which Cameron is well and truly doing in the Wairarapa.

The Overseas Investment Office can't stop them, because it has deliberately had withheld (check this out, Patrick) any mandate to consider the downsides to New Zealanders of any foreign investment. All it can look at is the character etc. of the investors.

Why is this? Why haven't our reporters long investigated why New Zealanders have been so deliberately disadvantaged by our own government? What's the agenda here?

Money talks to money, of course - and our money boys (and girls) probably identify more closely with their wealthy equivalents worldwide then they do to New Zealanders at large.

Good for Winston -and congratulations to Patrick Gower for following up what other reporters should have been checking out months, if not years back - instead of trying to ridicule Winston for a stand with which all real New Zealanders identify with - if not the chattering classes...who never lack a high opinion of their own under-informed writing...

Of course Winston is no fool. He knows his mostly xenophobic, elderly, greedy, selfish and insecure supporters are fools however who will believe anything he says.

Luckily the majority of New Zealanders saw through him years ago and he now plays to a diminishing audience who are growing senile faster than him. No other way to account for how his supporters put up with his hypocrisy.

Your greedy, selfish insecure comment reveals more about you than anything else, my daughter went and saw Winston talk at Uni recently and it was packed to the gunnels and they loved him, she thought he was 'cool'. I am a Winston guy and I'm 50 so keep dreaming Justice For All (whatever that means)

Exactly Paul N - very telling indeed of you and your daughter.

Did Winston explained to them his NO philosophy and how he got kicked out of Tauranga?

Oh dear, I fear your daughter will grow up as one-eyed and racist as you then. For god's sake get her on an OE to broaden her mind.

Are you one of these finance directors thats got home detention? because it sounds like it.

The older people you are calling fools have more honesty and integrity than you will ever hope to understand.

It unfortunate the money men (establishment) are only interested in the short term benefits for themselves.

If overseas purchases parasites played fair, and paid appropriate taxes one would consider selling to them. But they dont play fair!!!

Play fair? They pay top prices.

If you want to see skulduggery, try Michael Fay using patriotism to try and buy Crafar Farms at a low ball price.

Price is only part of the deal, and whos to say the price is full. Paying taxes is another. Quality of surrounding waterways but another, with the current lip service government is giving to dairy farmers.

Ever tried to buy a property off a china man?

And we all know Michael Fay ethnics and morals. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people (it seems) around that operate the same way. They are the money men, with legalisation you could drive a bus through to stop them. And my concern (as with alot of people) is that our current PM Jonkey is one of them.

Those arguing for restrictions hav a very valid point. But i think it is addressed through a different route. As i have commented a few times over the past couple of years, we should impose an annual tax on all offshore owners (non tax resident) of property in NZ.
It would be:
1. Easy to implement (levy through rates, exclude onshore owners who can prove tax residency via the IRD)
2. Very fair (requires those offshore to pay their way for the privilege of owning property here, instead of currently free riding on local taxpayers who pay for policing, roading etc. A present they are unlikely to pay any tax being non resident).
3. Very hard to avoid (put in place penalties on lawyers, estate agents etc who facilitate avoidance and look through corporations and trusts to the ultimate owners-require this data to be reported)
4. Very beneficial for economic growth in NZ (additional tax revenue, which would be material (I estimate >$500M annually from a 5% tax) could be used to reduce income taxes or invest in education or infrastructure).
5. Low impact on international trade (The ability to buy property here has nothing to do with our trade relationships overseas or foreign capital investment in productive businesses so China and Australia won't walk away from our eg. dairy exports, if we tax real estate investors here, and this complies with our free trade agreements if we impose it on all offshore owners)
This is such a winning policy, i am astounded no one has proposed it. It would win votes, boost economic growth, remove marginal price pressure on housing and be easy to implement.

I don't like Politicians at the best of times. I struggle to vote because I liken it to one of two choices ...a bullet or cyanide either way it's gonna kill me. Winston has guts and says things that other so called Politicians won't or don't because maybe they don't want to upset those they have made deals with behind those closed doors where the signs read don't need to know...unless you have money.
Sure he isn't God he makes mistakes who doesn't? Treasury makes them every day on a magnitude that defies gravity. Coming from the point of failures not an option which must be some basic math principle in there somewhere you know ...1+1=? and the answer is millions Not five or ten or two bucks but millions and millions gets... lost and/or over spent. I'm guessing these lolly counters have there PHD's in numbers right? Who forgets to put the rubbish out or wash their hands after going to the john. That's Winstons equivalent. In other words we all do it. But these number crunchers?, well no excuse there pal. These back room lobbyists making greedy deals for their hidden from the public bosses, with those entrusted with looking after the people of this country. Our land gets sold because it's the small print of these free trade agreements negotiated by these lobbyists the world over. And the winner is?...big business. And the looser is? You and me and bobby mcgee. Our minimum wage won't go up in a hurry because the bosses won't take a pay cut and the share holders want an increase in their dividends yearly at a rate greater than freefall!

Re: NBR's correction of Winston's calculations: 'The NZ First leader said a million hectares of New Zealand land has been sold to foreign interests since John Key came to power – equal to six Stewart Islands, by his calculation (actually it's closer to four)."
But actually on this occasion Winston is pretty well on the nail, according to official LINZ and OIO calculations released in two reports: An area of 971,524 hectares of total gross land area was "approved for foreign investment” by the OIO during the past five years up until December 31, 2013; and 14,969ha of freehold agricultural land is shown as being approved for "foreign investment" in the past six months to June 30. That total comes to 986,493ha – not far short of one million hectares cited by Winston. The estimated size of Stewart Island according to Wikipedia is 1680 sq km or 168,000ha. So 986,493ha divided by168,000ha comes to 5.8719821 i.e. "nearly six times" the size of Stewart Island as stated by Winston. (Or multiply the 168,000ha area if Stewart Island by 5.8719821 [nearly six times] and it comes to 986,492.99ha of NZ land approved for "foreign investment" in the past 5.5 years). It is worth remembering that this is only the amount of NZ land approved for "foreign investment" in the past 5.5 years - the figure for the past 10, 15 and 50 years must amount to a staggering amount of NZ land under foreign control.

I must admit to feeling more than uncomfortable about such sales to foreign entities.
I will hazard a guess and say we have no reciprical rights to buy in China.
Does anyone know?

You can't not own the land in china, it is owned by the state, you can olnly lease so therefore they always have some control of what is done with the land

No one can own land in China, but that is beside the point, I suggest you all go and have a read of the post by Henry Tull on Bernard Hickey's site Henry Tull's comment about Hunan-Dakang and the driving force behind all this buy up of farmland should send chills down your spine as it did mine.
We have GOT to fight back

Shanghai billionaire Jiang Zhaobai is aiming to take control of a second listed company in China, according to a regulatory announcement on Thursday. Jiang’s Pengxin Group, together with three of its wholly-owned subsidiaries, plans to buy 483.7 million new shares of Shenzhen-listed Hunan Dakang Pasture Farming for 7.96 yuan each, or 3.8 billion yuan, or $628 million, giving Pengxin a 55% stake, Dakang Pasture Farming said in a statement yesterday. The sale of shares to Pengxin is part of a larger offering of up to 628.1 million shares by Hunan Dakang Pasture Farming in a private placement that would raise up to five billion yuan, or $814 million. The funds will be used to support new dairy, beef and sheep businesses. The offering still is subject to government and Hunan Dakang shareholder approvals. Shares in Hunan Dakang climbed by their 10% daily limit yesterday after the announcement.

In recent years total annual new foreign direct investment in NZ had averaged a little more than $2b. The rising flow fitted the Government’s aim of increasing China’s investment in NZ relative to our exports, Kinsella said.

Richard Prosser: Does he believe it is good for anything other than property prices that Shanghai Pengxin will soon own 29 farms across New Zealand, totalling over 12,000 hectares of our most productive irrigated dairy pasture?

Hon TIM GROSER: This application is before the Overseas Investment Office at the moment and it would clearly be inappropriate for the Government to make a comment at this stage.

Richard Prosser: Is he concerned that foreign owners of large amounts of farmland have the potential to move to large-scale integration of dairy farming, including processing, which would completely lock out New Zealanders?

Hon TIM GROSER: No, I do not share that concern.

Richard Prosser: What action will he take should Shanghai Pengxin break its pledge to not invest in dairy processing and to export only finished products?

Hon TIM GROSER: Well, I will not comment on the proposal before the Overseas Investment Office at the moment, but of course there are procedures to ensure that when applications are granted and approved, the applications and the conditions that were pursuant to that are followed through, and there is a very rigorous process underlying that.

Richard Prosser: Can he confirm that Shanghai Pengxin’s pledge to export only finished products is legally enforceable, and does it extend to Shanghai Pengxin not buying out existing private dairy companies, which may themselves be able to then export bulk commodity product for further processing offshore?

Hon TIM GROSER: I refer the member to the answer to the previous question. Since this is before the Overseas Investment Office the member will have to wait and see what happens.

if you could see the conditions in which so many of the elderly are living, your bitter comments might reek less of ageism.

These are the people who, in other cultures are respected because they have lived longer than those who, with the certainty of youth, think that they know everything.

As with the pop singer Lorde's silly comment that the older generation doesn't understand the younger.

Sheer nonsense. The older generation has lived those years, and understands them very well. Once a pop singer... from then on an expert? We are surrounded by too many glib know-alls.

Anyone who badmouths the elderly en masse is ignorant, intolerant and not worth listening to. These are people far more experienced in the realities of living than many of the rest of us. And they can remember enough of how things go wrong for a country (think back to the World Wars of the 20th century which many of them remember) to be very concerned about what is happening to ours.

We should be, too. Winston, thank heavens, knows that NZ is under threat in a way that would have shocked our parents and grandparents.

They voted in Muldoon, who ably used divisive class, race and class policies and scare tactics to stay in power and ran NZ into the ground. Now they are blindly following his understudy Winston 'NO' Peters who is using the same tactics but with hypocrisy and half-truths dripping out of his mouth every time he speaks, so I have zero respect for their 'wisdom'. Thank goodness they are not in a position to have any real influence on NZ's future.

Oh dear, 'Justice for All', you're really missing the point... again.
Either New Zealanders are happy to become tenants in their own country, with other countries as landlords – including a one-party communist dictatorship, with a massive military-industry complex inimical to human rights and freedom of belief (oh, and which imprisons people for daring ask for democratic rights we in the West take for granted) – or not.
Soften thy forked tongue, and stick to the facts and the argument – denigrating anyone with whom you disagree as 'xenophobic, elderly, greedy, selfish and insecure ...fools' is simply silly, childish and offensive.

A few days ago, Kang pastoral 2013 annual general meeting of shareholders held in Jingzhou in Huaihua, the meeting elected a new Board of Directors and senior management

Full transition high-protein food suppliers: ... To overcome the difficulty, in 2013, Kang introduced pastoral strategy of Shanghai pengxin group. 2014 completed the private placement of shares raised $ 5 billion yuan to invest in construction of meat sheep breeding base, imported beef, imported 5 items such as baby milk powder and liquid milk produced, to create first-class “protein food suppliers.”... After this increase, Shanghai pengxin group totals 55.29% shares held directly and indirectly controlled company, the Group de facto control of Jiang Zhaobai has become the de facto control of the company’s new man. Chen Liming said the raised funds after the implementation will improve the current structure of single phase, significantly enhance the company’s competitiveness and profitability, dakang livestock would also rank among the first phalanx of Chinese agricultural listed companies is expected to be the set of pigs and sheep farming, beef, baby formula and liquid milk production as one of the international group of modern agriculture and animal husbandry.

Dairy giant strategic highlights: Dakang animal husbandry said that the goal of global adjustment to the company’s management team, is a non-public offering to raise funds in order to smooth implementation of investment projects, integrate the various business segments of the company resources, improving management efficiency and level, deepening the company’s development strategy.
Dakang livestock management team thoroughly shake - all controlled by professional managers May 13 2014

As Stephen Joyce pointed out, you never hear Labour, Greens, Winston etc. object to non-Chinese buying farms in New Zealand. Perhaps they will implement a "Whites Only" policy for foreign purchases if they come to power?

Considering that almost all "White" countries have barriers to farm exports from New Zealand, and are bankrupt to boot, angering the Chinese who are now the country's main trading partner and also have the investment funds the country sorely needs is surely "biting the hand that feeds us"!

Why is it okay for Dutch interest to own Huka lodge, but not a Chinese interest?

How about breaking Lochinver up into smaller economic units and selling to a multiple of young energetic NZ farmers and their families. The same should happen with Landcorp.

NZ would certainly be on a win win situation with much extra production for good measure.

Great. What a plan! And then we'll break up your house and section and create small apartments to sell to young, energetic people and their families. It will be a win win with much more housing for good measure! You'll sell to the government for less than market rate given it's for the greater good right?

Winston has my vote!

Namibia will never follow the Zimbabwe example of seizing land from white people in the name of land reform, Prime Minister Hage Geingob has said. Geingob said President Hifikepunye Pohamba has made it clear that land grabbing will not be permitted in Namibia despite the inequalities in the ownership of land. The prime minister was addressing Chinese and Namibian businesspeople during a Namibia-China Business Forum in Shanghai. The first business forum took place last week in the Chinese capital Beijing. Classifying the land issue as critical, Geingob said the Namibian government has been avoiding a volatile situation in which the landless masses attempt to take land by force. He raised concern about the high number of non-Namibians, especially people of European and South African descent, who own large tracts of land in the country but do not live on it. He said the government has enacted legislation that prohibits the sale of farmland to foreigners. ...
Geingob advised Chinese businesspeople seeking land in Namibia to consider leasing such land, as they will not be able to purchase it. “A businessperson who intends to set up shop in Namibia can lease land for a maximum period of 99 years. So, do not despair. If you intend to set up factory shops in Namibia, you can do so provided you are doing so within the framework of the applicable laws. Land is a very sensitive issue in Namibia,” he said.