29 Jun 2012

Chinese price for Crafar spin-offs 'too high'

8:52 am on 29 June 2012

Maori farming representatives negotiating to buy three of the Crafar family farms have rejected the asking price as too high.

Tiroa E and Te Hape B Trusts and Tuwharetoa say the price of $66.5 million for two farms at Benneydale in the King Country, and one at Tauhara on the Napier-Taupo road, is ridiculous.

Two iwi have had claims on the land since the 1800s and saw the purchase of the three Crafar farms as an opportunity to reclaim the land and a number of wahi tapu sites.

They have been negotiating in the past month with Landcorp, which is acting as agent for the Shanghai-Pengxin company that the Overseas Investment office and the Government have cleared for the second time to buy the 16 farms.

The iwi are also part of a group that have lodged a fresh legal challenge against the sale to the Chinese company after successfully blocking the Government's initial approval.

Tiroa E and Te Hape B Trusts chairman Hardie Peni, negotiating for the two Benneydale farms, says he couldn't get past the farm gate to make his own valuation - but believes the amount that Shanghai Pengxin is asking for those two properties alone is totally unrealistic.

Withdrawing from the legal action would also have been a condition of the sale, but he says that will go ahead as scheduled in the High Court on Monday, with Maori groups among the parties arguing the Chinese firm lacks business skills and farming knowledge.