13 Sep 2013

American investment group buys Mt Pember Station

5:12 pm on 13 September 2013

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of one of New Zealand's biggest farms, Mount Pember Station in Canterbury's Lees Valley, to a North American investment group.

Mount Pember Station is an amalgamation of seven runs and farms that covers more than 27,000 hectares.

It features 11 houses, five woolsheds and various other farm buildings.

Bayleys, who brokered the deal, says Mount Pember was purchased through the New Zealand office of the the American group's Lees Valley Station company.

The station will be managed by Grasslands, a New Zealand farm management and consulting company.

Mt Pember Station.

Mt Pember Station. Photo: Bayleys

NZ First, Greens condemn sale

New Zealand First says the Overseas Investment Office has betrayed New Zealanders by rubberstamping the sale of one of the country's biggest farms to foreign investors.

Leader Winston Peters says the country lives and dies by its land and sea resources and the office is clearly not looking after the country's best interests.

"New Zealand land should be for New Zealand ownership or, if people want to own it from abroad, then they have to come here and settle it and put their heart and soul into our country's economic development. Why we should allow for offshore ownership like this - absentee ownership - when other countries don't is beyond a lot of New Zealanders and it's beyond me."

The Green Party says it is alarming the OIO has approved the sale of a farm the size of Christchurch city to foreign investors.

Trade and foreign investment spokesperson Kennedy Graham says the office appears very lax with what it approves.

"It has a small staff and there appears to be no followup as to monitoring whether there's real economic benefit."

Dr Graham says the Government is doing nothing to stop New Zealanders becoming tenants in their own country.

Prime Minister John Key says foreign investors have to go through a very thorough process before they can buy New Zealand farmland.

Mr Key says the sale to the North American group needs to be put into perspective.

"Overall the information that LINZ has - Land Information - is that the amount of rural land bought by foreigners is still actually very low and where we have seen foreign investment in land, often it comes with significant restrictions or criteria that have to be met."