24 Oct 2015

Little talks land concerns with Chinese VP

4:14 pm on 24 October 2015

Labour Party leader Andrew Little has raised concerns with China's government about Chinese investment in housing in New Zealand.

Labour Party Leader, Andrew Little.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Little is currently visiting Beijing and met China's Vice President, Li Yuanchao yesterday.

Labour has previously drawn attention to the number of Chinese people buying houses in Auckland, and Mr Little said he had discussed the matter with Mr Li.

Chinese deputy president Li Yuanchao.

Chinese deputy president Li Yuanchao. Photo: AFP

He said Labour welcomed Chinese investment but had concerns about the number of houses being bought by people who did not want to live in them.

"I just said how that issue is a sensitive issue for a lot of New Zealanders at the moment.

"And for a country a large chunk of whose national wealth is based on what we produce off our land, it's important that we retain control of it.

"I have to say I got a very understanding and sympathetic ear to that notion."

Mr Little said he also raised concerns about China awarding a peace prize to the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe.

Labour claimed foreigners buying up Auckland

In July, Labour was branded racist for using figures from a real estate company to claim foreign speculators were ramping up Auckland house prices.

It said this was because the company's sales data showed almost 40 percent of buyers in the three months to the end of April had Chinese names.

Rob Salmond, from Polity, crunched the numbers for Labour and said the data was straightforward and that its critics were working under misconceptions.

"All that we did was we looked at the names of people buying every house in Auckland. We estimated the ethnicity of everybody from their name across every ethnicity we could think of.

"Then we added them all up and that's how we got to a conclusion that about 40 percent of the houses in Auckland are likely being bought by people of Chinese ethnicity."

Mr Salmond was standing by the results and said they were not racist.

"We estimated last year the ethnicity of all 3.2 million on the electoral roll using their surname, their middle name, their first name and their address.

"Then we verified that against about 3500 people and found that our estimates were 95 percent right.

"So the method that we used is 95 percent accurate for putting people into ethnic categories based on their name," Mr Salmond said.

Satirical artist Toby Morris tackles the controversy over Labour's 'data' on Auckland house buyers.

Toby Morris tackles the controversy over Labour's data on Auckland house buyers. Photo: RNZ / Toby Morris