October 08, 2019
Little benefit seen from foreign landowners
The value of the large foreign ownership of New Zealand land and forests is raising alarm bells among Māori.
A Radio New Zealand investigation found at least 3.5 percent of New Zealand's foreign land is now foreign-owned, with six of the 10 largest private landowners now foreign-owned forestry companies
Over the past two years the Overseas Investment Office has approved more than $2.3 billion of forestry-related land sales, including 31,000 hectares previously in New Zealand hands.
Te Taru White from Te Arawa Federation of Māori Authorities says it's a reflection of the shortage of capital available to New Zealand owners, expecially Maori.
Past Māori experience of leasing land is the forestry interests take the logs and leave the owners with the sawdust.
"So from a Maori point of view our interest must be in adding value to the logs, an integrated value that we actually create employment here. These foreign interests don't do that. They may say they're looking to do that but I haven't yet seen one that really has put its name on the fact they are providing multiple benefits to our people. They simply aren't," Mr White says.
While the Overseas Investment Office applies an additional benefits test to applications, he'd like to see something closer to the negative effects test used across the Tasman.
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