Analysis: Winston Peters rediscovers his anger about land sales in Northland – and, yes, this time the buyer is from Asia

When the Overseas Investment Office granted Philip Morris boss Andreas Calantzopoulos permission to buy a 316ha farm in Northland, NBR approached Winston Peters for comment.

The NZ First leader did not get back with any comment about the Switzerland-based executive's purchase.

But he did release a statement to media, complaining that NBR had queried why he opposed the possible sale of the Mt White station in the South Island but had nothing to say about events under his nose.

Mr Peters said: “And comparing the Northland farm with Mt White Station is like saying NBR is equal to the Financial Times.  Mr and Mrs Calantzopoulos’ farm was approved by the OIO whereas we can still keep Mt White Station in Kiwi hands."

That was curious, given the Calantzopoulos sale was inside his electorate, and too-many-land-sales-to-foreigners is a constant theme of his speeches. Still, it at least had a certain logic to it.

But now comes a fresh statement from Mr Peters, this time complaining about a Northland land sale after the fact.

His press release issued last night says, in part:

The sale just approved by the Overseas Investment Office of an iconic farm at Kaiwaka in Northland sees more valuable land disappear into foreign ownership, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The property covering 246.55 hectares at 136 Ranganui Rd, Kaiwaka, was owned by a Kiwi family for over 100 years and has been bought by Singapore buyers for $5.7 million.

“It was promoted to ‘developers, investors and land bankers’.

“The farmland was advertised as being only an hour’s drive from Auckland; having 3km of harbour frontage; panoramic vistas and as being ideal for subdivision.

“That suggests the future of this land being used for farming is in serious doubt and confirms again that the Overseas Investment Office is simply a rubber-stamping machine.

“The massive sell-off of valuable farmland to foreign buyers has got out of control under National.

“Foreign buyers snapped up 465,863 hectares in 2016, compared to 79,897 hectares sold to foreigners in 2015.

What, pray tell, was the difference between the Calantzopoulos purchase and the one just approved by the OIO – other than the fact the buyer came from an Asian country?

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