The Dom Post editorial:
No application by a foreign investor looking to buy New Zealand land has attracted more attention than Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin’s bid for the Crafar farms.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that opposition to the deal, approved yesterday, is mostly driven by the nationality of the purchaser.
Of course it is. Not all of it, but much of it.
When Canadian film director James Cameron purchased more than 1000ha of Wairarapa land, including a 250ha dairy farm, the news was generally welcomed, even though the residency requirements he must meet mean he has to live in New Zealand for only 44 days in each of the final two years of a three-year investment period. The sale of the Crafar farms, on the other hand, has met howls of protest, despite Shanghai Pengxin having to satisfy 27 stringent requirements.
These include establishing a farm school on one of the properties, to be run by state-owned enterprise Landcorp, which will also manage the farms, and providing $5000 university scholarships to two students. It must also provide public walking access across two of the farms, protect Maori archaeological sites and undertake significant conservation requirements.
The company has also, apparently on its own initiative, undertaken to spend at least $100 million over five years promoting New Zealand dairy products in China and elsewhere in Asia, a key developing market. The increased trade that could flow from that will benefit all New Zealand dairy farmers and, with it, the wider economy.
As I have said for some time, I see this sale as having huge opportunities for New Zealand.