CAFCA - Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa

Foreign investment in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Overseas Investment Office - August 2023 Decision

Here's A Rarity: Ministers Decline Application

The Minister for Land Information and the Associate Minister of Finance declined an application from Port Blakely Limited (United States of America 100%) to acquire a freehold interest in approximately 800 hectares of land located in the Otago region. Both the identity of the would-be seller and the price to be paid have been withheld. As of 2019, Port Blakely owned nearly 35,000 hectares of NZ forestry land, in both the North and South Islands. It has been appearing in the OIO Decisions for decades, initially under the name Blakely Pacific.

The OIO says: "The Applicant is ultimately owned by the Eddy family. The Applicant has approximately 30 years' experience investing in New Zealand production forestry. The land has rolling terrain and is currently operated as a sheep and beef farm, with a small area of forestry (approximately 40 hectares). The land is a mixture of LUC 3 (approximately 60% of the land) and LUC 6 (approximately. 40% of the land)". LUC = Land Use Capability. Ed.

"The Applicant intended to convert the land to production forestry by planting approximately 650 hectares of new Pinus radiata (together with the existing forestry takes the total to approximately 690 hectares). The Applicant claimed that the Investment would benefit New Zealand economically through increased job opportunities and increased revenue off the Land, including the provision of 50% of the new timber for domestic processing".

"The Applicant also claimed that the Investment would provide various environmental, public access, and advancement of significant Government policy benefits. Consent was declined as Ministers were ultimately not satisfied that the likely benefit was proportionate to the sensitivity of the land and the nature of the overseas investment". The application failed the Sensitive land - Benefit test.

OIO statistics show that only 31 applications to purchase sensitive land have been declined since October 2018 (when the rules changed) until June 2023. So, this Ministerial decision really is a rarity. And likely to become non-existent with the change of Government. Act intends to revert to the good old days, vis a vis the foreign investment regime. It got this in its Coalition Agreement with National:

"Amend the Overseas Investment Act 2005 to limit ministerial decision making to national security concerns and make such decision making more-timely". Currently two Ministers or Associate Ministers sign off on decisions but this will put virtually all OIO Decisions back into the hands of the bureaucrats again. More-timely, eh. Hand me that rubber stamp.

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Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa,
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