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Ed Said - Foreign investors welcome


dadDo we just have a mistrust of people as we get older or is it a part of accumulated ‘wisdom’ that we tend to consider and question things more and find that what we are told by seemingly reliable sources are not always as they sound?

For example, a while ago it was reported that 16 TINS of whale meat had been found on a boat in Wellington. After much ruckus in the press it was re-reported that it was actually sixteen TINS of whalemeat that was found. In last years floods in Brisbane it was reported that about THIRTY THOUSAND PIGLETS were seen floating down a flooded river. This was later corrected to THIRTY SOWS and PIGLETS – quite a different thing altogether.

Here last week it was reported that New Zealand’s most expensive property, Lochinver Station, had been sold to Chinese interests. Reports referred to 30,000 ha – quite a sizeable chunk of real estate. However the real size of the block is actually only 13, 000 ha, again very different from that reported. Acreage apart, are people up in arms with the fact that the sale is going to overseas interests? No! They are complaining because the property is going to specifically Chinese interests. Why? Please tell me the difference between an Asian and an American buyer.

In 2004 famous singer Shania Twain purchased 25,000 ha of Otago high country (considerably larger than Lochinver) and nobody said a word. The silence was amplified when, in 2010 she added 8,500 ha Glencoe Station to her portfolio. How fickle we are, if not just plain one-eyed.

We have Mexico investing in NZ livestock, a deal worth around $40m – no complaints. We have NZ farming interests in large tracts of land in Chile and China. Again, no complaints.

What amuses me somewhat is that most who are complaining have no idea which end of a cow kicks, many don’t eat lamb or beef and another large proportion who have never been on a farm yet still feel they have the right to an opinion that matters.

Strangely enough, we don’t care when we sell our house in town, whether it’s bought by a Dutchman, an English migrant or an Asian, so why this flip-flop of ‘allegiance’ over a property which, for most, wouldn’t even know what Lochinver Station actually is or what it produces?

It’s my guess that, with the Chinese building a dairy factory in Pokeno, south Auckland, and virtually building a small city there (for KIWI workers) that, in reasonably short time, Lochinver could become a massive dairy conversion leading, also, to the employment of hundreds,

Local caretakers, the Tuwharetoa Iwi, have said that at $70 million they had no chance of purchasing the spread. In recent times they have been paid out far in advance of $70m through Timberlord and Treaty settlements. Poor business decisions mean they do not now have the equity to bid for this property. Whose fault is that? There is a big lesson to be learnt here. Remember, to limit the market is to also limit the value.

Opposition parties are turning this into an election issue which, I believe, it is not. Rather, it represents a welcome expression of interest in a country that should be as receptive as possible to overseas capital.

Compared to 250,000 starving children which NZ is reported to have, the worst drivers in the world, poor roads, the worst prison statistics, more marijuana users per capita than any other country and failing at education and so on, should we not focus on the things that really matter?

Just MHO.

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