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The other face of foreign ownership

6 August 2014

The other face of foreign ownership

The generosity of foreign investors has created New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement at 53,000 hectares; equivalent to 240 Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill Domains.

“It is exciting that a Queen Elizabeth II covenant now covers the iconic high country over most of Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak stations,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President.

“This is the other face of foreign ownership, perhaps best explained by dual Federated Farmers/Forest & Bird life member, Gordon Stephenson, who commented: “this is the first time a whole landscape is being put into a covenant”.

“Soho Properties have gone massively over their Overseas Investment Office requirements, not only with this generous gift, but by investing in pest weed and pest plant control, fencing and the reintroduction of native fauna. It extends to the Walking Access Commission too.

“Almost all of the previously farmed areas will be retired from farming with the exception of the valley floors, where 10,000 stock units will continue to be farmed.

“Federated Farmers, having played a key role in forming the QEII National Trust, congratulates everyone at Soho Properties and the National Trust.

“While this is protection on a grand scale what Soho Properties is doing is super sizing what farmers have been doing since 1977. It is a genuine credit to all farmers whether they protect one hectare or several thousand.

“We must remember farmers do this voluntarily without the stick of regulation. With legally enforceable QEII National Trust covenants now protecting more than 178,000 hectares, that is a total land area greater than Stewart Island.

“That it has come about voluntarily explains why we must not tilt at every single overseas application, or a rumour of an application, like we’re a latter-day Don Quixote.

“We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that New Zealand is the Hollywood and Palo Alto of global farming. Our farm system is the best because we attract the best.

“Federated Farmers would be extremely worried if every applicant is raked over, especially if they’re migrating here to live and farm. We thought skilled migration had broad political agreement. If not, it ought to.

“In early 2010, the Campaign Against Foreign Control Of Aotearoa issued a media release entitled, “Just What Are The Benefits To NZ Of Allowing Shania Twain To Buy High Country Stations?” I think they’ve now got their answer,” Dr Rolleston concluded.


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