15 Oct 2020

Grieving British family seeking options for yacht sale in NZ

6:26 pm on 15 October 2020

A grieving UK family wanting to sell their 17-metre yacht in New Zealand could have it imported here - but it would cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

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The Jarman family. Photo: SUPPLIED

Barbara Genda, Harry Jarman and their two children were sailing the world when tragedy struck in Tahiti, with the death of 14 year-old Eddie in August.

Their application to sail to New Zealand on humanitarian grounds was declined just under two weeks ago.

But the Ministry of Health said late yesterday it was now looking at the case as a matter of urgency, and finalising options that might be available to the family.

The family wanted the yacht sold before returning to the UK where they planned to restart their lives.

After initially being declined an exemption, yesterday they were advised they could submit a revised application to get their yacht to New Zealand under the Delivery to a Business classification.

But the options available to them might mean the yacht comes here - without them.

The Auckland broker with whom the luxury yacht is listed has spoken to government officials today.

Conrad Gair said they were seeking a way to get the yacht - and others into New Zealand, so they could be sold.

"That's the first positive response this morning, is that they're really working on it, and going through the systems and trying to nail down actual values to New Zealand."

Gair said yachts that would traditionally sail here to be sold were not allowed in under current border restrictions, and New Zealand was missing out.

"If it comes to New Zealand and is sold to a New Zealander there are taxes, and taxes go into the system. There could be a brokerage fee, repair work on the boat and stuff for other trades in our industry."

Nelson boat broker and yachtsman Robert Greenwood said customs and duty applied to boats brought in and sold to New Zealanders, the same as any import.

"It works out to around 20 percent total - that's five percent sales tax and 15 percent GST on what the vessel's valued at, on entry as well."

New Zealand had not closed its border to goods or trade - imports and exports could continue to operate on the same basis as pre-Covid-19.

Greenwood said another option would be that the family's yacht was sailed here by a New Zealand crew, but that came with a hefty price.

"I'd say about $NZ40,000 - I could be out on that and that could be on the cheap side."

The family was currently in Tahiti - which Conrad Gair said was a hugely attractive sailing area, but not ideal for trying to sell a boat.

Meanwhile - the market here was buoyant.

Gair said Kiwis were snapping up boats and campervans instead of overseas holidays.

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The Jarman family's yacht. Photo: SUPPLIED

Greenwood said they could barely keep up with demand for vessels, including offshore boats that had been here since prior to the border closure.

"A lot of offshore boats do get sold in New Zealand and currently we can't get enough of them.

"We're selling so many - we've never seen anything like it before."

Gair said the global reputation of the New Zealand boat industry was another reason foreign boats often went up for sale once they arrived here.

"Because of the quality of our services in this country, with surveying, checking of boats and any repair works that need to be done.

"The facilities we have here, and the trades [support] we have to buy sight-unseen is still strong.

"We've sold boats that are now sitting here, waiting for the doors to open so that people can come and pick up their boat."

The Ocean Cruising Club had been advocating for the family and its plight.

Spokesperson Guy Chester was untying from the dock in Tahiti, and about to set sail for home in Australia when he spoke with RNZ today.

He said the tragic loss of the family's son and events following had been a nightmare for the family, but letting them in to New Zealand would not open the door to others wanting to sail here.

"We wrote specifically to the Health Minister suggesting that even if New Zealand would not recognise cyclone risk for all the other yachts throughout the South Pacific in Covid limbo, then as a compelling reason, please give a humanitarian exemption to that family."

Barbara Genda told RNZ today they were in the process of resubmitting paperwork which they expected would take some time to progress - and nothing was certain yet.

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