A South Wairarapa sheep and beef farm has recently been snapped up by an overseas forestry company, the first such sale under a new threshold that requires a higher “benefit to New Zealand”.
In its October decision, the Overseas Investment Office [OIO] said the United Kingdom-owned NZ Forestry Partnership intends to convert the land for forestry activities by planting approximately 193ha of pine trees.
The 256ha Cannock Rd property – which is currently being used to graze sheep and beef – reportedly has 20 per cent of its land already planted in trees.
“The investment is likely to benefit to New Zealand through increased job opportunities, increased revenue from the land, increased development expenditure, various ecological benefits, advancing significant government policy, and potential increased public access,” the OIO decision said.
“Consent was granted as ministers were satisfied that the applicant has met the investor test criterion and that the investment is likely to result in benefit to New Zealand.”
The decision said the property is Land Use Class 6 and 7.
“There is one dwelling on the land which the applicant intends to subdivide off along with around 7ha of land,” it said. Since January 2022, the OIO has allowed a total of 89 sales in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, involving a total of 226,275ha.
The new, higher “benefit to New Zealand” threshold was introduced by the government after pressure from rural communities about the amount of farmland being bought by foreign buyers for conversion into forestry.
In order for foreign buyers to lease or otherwise “acquire interests” in sensitive land or fishing quota, they must show that their investment is likely to benefit the country through the assessment of the following seven factors:
Economic: Creating or retaining jobs, introducing technology or skills, increasing productivity, and/or increasing export receipts;
Environmental: Protecting native wildlife, protecting native plants, erosion control, and/or improving water quality;
Access: Whether New Zealanders retain or gain recreational access, such as fishing or walking, exercising kaitiakitanga or stewardship of important historical or spiritual sites, and/or ability to cross the land to reach other sites or areas;
Heritage: Protection of sites of historical importance, access to sites of historical importance, and/or access to sites of importance to Māori culture;
Government Policy: Giving effect to or advancing significant government policy; participation and/or oversight by New Zealanders; other benefits as a direct result of the investment.