1 Aug 2014

Chinese sign deal to acquire big farm

9:54 pm on 1 August 2014

A Chinese group has signed a sale and purchase agreement for nearly 14,000 hectares of North Island farmland.

Shanghai Pengxin, which bought 16 farms formerly owned by the Crafar family, wants to acquire Lochinver Station, near Taupo, and has entered into the agreement through local subsidiary Pure 100 Farm.

Winston Peters.

NZ First leader Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ

In 2012, the Chinese buyers overcame legal challenges from farming and Maori interests to take possession of the Crafar farms.

The Overseas Investment Office confirmed on Friday it has received an application for the station's purchase. The sale is still subject to New Zealand and Chinese regulatory approval.

The 13,8000-hectare station has been in the same hands for the past 54 years. Its sale advert said it operates as a profitable sheep and beef breeding and finishing station, supplemented with dairy grazing. The ad notes it has the potential for a range of farming systems, including dairying.

The sale has been criticised by the Opposition, who say the sale of such a large piece of land is not in the interest of New Zealand.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said it's a disgraceful development when prime pieces of land are being hocked off to overseas investors.

"It is just one further sad development into overseas ownership of land that used to be prime land owned in New Zealand. And in this case it's going to a buyer that has no experience of agriculture literally at all."

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said New Zealanders are losing control of productive land.

"It is incredibly short-sighted economic strategy to sell the goose that lays the golden egg. New Zealand land - they're not making any more of it.

"It's incredibly valuable to New Zealand, but in order to satisfy a short-term economic strategy of the National Party this land's going into foreign ownership."