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Irish Eyes Smiling On New Zealand

Irish eyes smiling on New Zealand

First it was the English, now it’s the Irish who are eying up New Zealand’s rural properties.

Bayleys Canterbury director Shane O’Brien has just returned from Ireland where he says interest in settling in New Zealand is high among Irish farmers, particularly in the North.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the level of interest,’’ says Shane O’Brien. “We had more than 50 people at the seminar we held in Antrim. These are all people who are interested in potentially buying rural land here and immigrating.’’

Irish farmers wanting to emigrate because of the tough conditions in Ireland have traditionally bought land in England but they do not see farming there as sustainable in the long-term. Increasingly they are looking further a-field – to Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“New Zealand is their preferred choice because Canada has quite a different style of farming and Australia can be quite extreme in terms of drought. New Zealand has a very similar style of farming and when you convert pounds or Euros to New Zealand dollars the land is still relatively affordable,’’ Shane O’Brien says.

In Northern Ireland farming is dominated by dairying and farmers there are watching with interest the rise of dairying in New Zealand.

“They are well versed in our current dairy boom and are excited by the long-term outlook for dairying in New Zealand,’’ says Shane O’Brien.

Irish real estate agent Stephen Allen, from Commonwealth and International Farms in Antrim, Northern Ireland, says he too is surprised by the interest young Irish farmers in particular are showing in emigrating to New Zealand.

He has fielded further calls from interested farmers since the seminar, the first ever held in Ireland by a New Zealand real estate company.

“New Zealand is probably the closest looking country to Northern Ireland, you know. People seem to have a genuine interest . . . there’s a better system in New Zealand; the government is too involved in the farms here and everybody is fed up,’’ Stephen Allen says.

“They’re looking for a better way of life. There’s wall to wall people here now – it used to be just England that was full of people but it’s here now and getting nearly as bad.

“The government has made the farmers out to be second-class citizens and that’s upset a lot of them. They’re sick of it and they think things will be better in New Zealand,’’ Stephen Allen says.

He says he knows of several Irish farmers who are planning on coming to New Zealand in the coming months to scout out potential properties.


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