Huka Lodge is not for sale to the Chinese, and its current owner is already a non-NZ resident - albeit Dutch rather than Chinese.
The Herald reports:
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has claimed the world-famous Huka Lodge near Taupo has been sold to Chinese buyers and suggested Prime Minister John Key had a hand in smoothing the process.
Mr Peters made the claim during his state of the nation address on Auckland’s North Shore this afternoon.
“While you’re here media, let me tell you something, Huka Lodge has just been sold to the Chinese … and I want you to go and ask John Key what role you had in this?
“Was it not true, Mr Key, that you assured them `there won’t be a problem, we’ll smooth it out for you’.”
But Winston lied.
Outraegously, as TV3's Brook Sabin pointed out:
Huka Lodge says 100% false it has been sold to Chinese investors. Not on market.
— Brook Sabin (@BrookSabin) February 21, 2014
Any other political leader who made up a claim like this, and just flat out lied, would be crucified by the media.
But Winston gets away with it. He lied that it had been sold. He lied that it was on the market, and he lied that the PM was involved.
Just as bad, he is doing his normal anti-Asian racism. I understand the current owner was born in Holland. Even if the sale was true, why is it okay for someone born in Holland to own Huka Lodge, but not someone born in China? It's racism.
Huka Lodge is owned by a Dutch company on behalf of Alex van Heeren who is the honorary counsel for East and West Flanders and Antwerp and a former Dutch honorary counsel to New Zealand. He is not a New Zealander, but a foreign businessman who spends most of his time abroad.
When Huka Lodge was sold to van Heeren (under Labour in 2003), did Peters say a word aboutt foreign investment or ownership?
Then he invents a story abour it being sold to Chinese investors, with the clear message that this would be wrong and evil. His message isn’t that foreign ownership is bad. His message is that it is okay for white foreigners to own assets in New Zealand, but awful if Asian foreigners buy things.
It is racism pure and simple. It is designed to whip up hostility to people who look Asian, regardless of whether or not they are foreigners or New Zealand born. The message it sends is if you are an Asian New Zealander, you are a second class citizen.
Afterwards he cited real estate sources for his comments. “My informant says John Key has said to these people: ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ll smooth it through the Overseas Investment Office’.”
If any politician should be suing for defamation, it should be John Key.
Later, Peters modified his claim to say the lodge was for sale.
First of all he claimed explicitly it had been sold. With that proven to be a lie, he does not apologise or retract. He invents a new lie. The owners of Huka Lodge have clearly said it is not on the market.
One could give Peters some benefit of the doubt that he believed the so called informant and is just so lazy and unconcerned with the truth, that he repeated an unproven allegation as fact because that’s the sort of politician he his. That’s the best case scenario. But now when confronted with the fact that it has not been sold, and the owner says it is not for sale, he chooses to maintain the lie, and amend it, rather than accept he said something false.
It’s the same behaviour as with the Owen Glenn donation. The evidence before the Privileges Committee proved beyond any doubt he lied dozens of times, yet he still insists he didn’t.
“The Overseas Investment Office has spoken to Huka Lodge director and shareholder David McGregor, and he has confirmed no sale has been made or is being considered,” Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson said, not long after Mr Key’s office said the prime minister would never become involved in OIO applications even if one were in train.
Huka Lodge director of global sales and marketing Louise Smythe rejected the claim.
“None of it is true, no,” she said.
But Peters was unrepentant last night, accusing the OIO of having become a “political pawn”.
A pawn in a sale that only exists with the help of drugs or alcohol.
Such was the paperwork involved, the OIO may not know the status of the sale, Peters said.
“It’s for sale.”
So is Peters saying the owner is a liar, or saying that somehow you can sell something without the owner knowing anything about it?
I’m not one of those who says the media should not report on Peters, because they have to. But what the media can do is say this case proves that they should only report on opinions of Peters, but if Peters in future states something as a fact (such as WINZ has a fleet of BMWs, or Huka Lodge has been sold to the Chinese) they should not print the alleged fact until they have verified it. And if the fact is untrue, then don’t give his lies media space. He knows that 5% of the population will believe a lie if he tells it. It’s the old saying you can fool some of the population, all of the time.
Political commentator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.