27 Sep 2011

Iwi investor wants poll on foreign sales

6:04 am on 27 September 2011

A Maori investor leading an iwi bid for a stake in the Crafar Farms wants a poll to be taken to find out what New Zealanders think of strategic assets being sold to foreign investors.

Hardie Peni is the chair of Tiroa E and Te Hape B trusts - both of which have a commercial and a cultural interest in the farms because the land was originally part of their ancestral whenua.

Mr Peni was part of a consortium led by Sir Michael Fay which offered $171.5 million dollars for the 6 farms in receivership.

But the receiver, Brendon Gibson of Korda Mentha, has turned their offer down, saying it would not be enough to meet the money owed to creditors.

Mr Gibson says he previously accepted a far better offer from a Chinese company, Pengxin International Group Limited.

That offer is currently awaiting a decision by the Overseas Investment Office.

Mr Peni says there are two important questions he would like to ask the public: first, is it in the best interests to sell strategic assets to off-shore investors; and second, would people support the Government if they let that happen.

Mr Peni says the public should not be pointing the finger at the OIO, because he says the ultimate decision rests with the Minister of Finance.

Meanwhile, he says he is not disappointed about the iwi offer being rejected and the two trusts he represents are keeping their options open.