A new lobby group's claims of overseas buyers lining up to get their hands on land needs to be taken seriously, says the Green Party.
Auckland lawyer Tony Bouchier said his telephone had been ringing hot with support for a campaign by the Save the Farms group to stop New Zealand farms being sold to overseas owners.
The group says there is evidence of overseas buyers are lining up to buy here.
Led and funded by Auckland developer John McKearney, Save the Farms was launched today as the Crafar family was due back in court to seek a court order to stop the receiver evicting them from a farm in Reporoa in the Bay of Plenty.
In the High Court at Rotorua today, Allan Crafar won a temporary reprieve while further information is sought on tenancy details and the case will continue next month.
Hong Kong-based company Natural Dairy is bidding to buy 16 Crafar farms, totalling 8000 hectares, being sold by receivers.
Save The Farms spokesman Mr Bouchier said the group wanted a national debate on the issue of overseas ownership of New Zealand land and the Government needed to take urgent action.
The first step was a moratorium on the sale of Crafar farms and other sensitive agricultural land to foreign ownership until there has been informed public debate and protections incorporated into a review of the Overseas Investment Act 2005.
"New Zealand must retain ownership of our primary resource, the land and waters of Aotearoa New Zealand."
Mr Bouchier said he had had 100 percent support from everyone he had spoken to about the issue.
He said his telephone had been running red hot with messages and texts supporting the group.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said it showed there was widespread disquiet about the loss of New Zealand's productive land to overseas investors.
"The Save our Farms campaign will go some way to levelling what looks like a massively uneven playing field when it comes to advertising dollars," Mrs Turei said.
"Natural Dairy is intent on spending a huge amount of money trying to buy the New Zealand public's favourable opinion."
New Zealand was at risk of losing its economic sovereignty and regulation was the only way to deal with that threat, she said.
Prime Minister John Key said there were concerns about large tracts of land being sold off.
"That is part of the economic power base and the economic growth story of New Zealand and I don't think we want to end up in the position where we are tenants in our own land," he told NewstalkZB.
"I think foreign investment is welcome if it is building a new dairy plant or whatever it might be because I think that can add jobs or can add capital that we don't necessarily have."
While selling farms did not achieve a lot, he had problems with a total ban on sales.
Finance Minister Bill English is expected to consider the land sale issue in his review of the overseas investment rules.