4 Aug 2014

PM happy with Lochinver Station sale

12:46 pm on 4 August 2014

Prime Minister John Key is happy with the sale of a large New Zealand farm to a Chinese company, provided it goes through the proper process, he says.

Lambs

Photo: PHOTO NZ

Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin wants to buy Lochinver Station, a 13,800 hectare sheep and beef farm near Taupo.

Shanghai Pengxin was involved in the controversial purchase of the Crafar farms in 2012 and owns 29 farms nationwide.

Some opposition parties have said the sale of such a large piece of productive land to foreign investors is not in the country's interest.

However Mr Key said the company substantially improved the Crafar farms, farming in a more professional way, building a market for New Zealand products in China and underpinning New Zealand jobs.

The Lochinver sale should progress properly, he said.

"I'm happy if it goes through a proper process and that process determines that, it's pretty foolish for anybody to jump in front of that and offer a view.

"I know political parties, certainly opposition parties, are."

Gary Romano

Gary Romano Photo: Fonterra

Pengxin has signed a sale-and-purchase agreement for the farm, and chief executive Gary Romano said foreign direct investment was good for New Zealand.

The company would spend money on boosting productivity and environmental compliance on Lochinver Station, he said.

"Our contribution here is to spend capital that wouldn't have otherwise been spent."

Mr Romano said this spending would not only be on productivity improvements but also investment in environmental compliance, heath and safety and support for the local community.

A North Island farmer, who did not want to be named, said politicians were wrong to focus on the fact it was a Chinese consortium buying the farm.

The farmer said few political points were scored when others, such as Europeans or Canadians, bought buy New Zealand land and the important thing was that the Overseas Investment Office did its checks properly.