Yesterday was a good day for New Zealand with an excellent step in the right direction in the form of the budget. Today is a very sad day. I know that I should believe the Crafar sale is simply open cross border investment. Having spoken to my 84 year old mother we share the same view. By selling prime dairy farms we are selling our birthright. Somehow when forestry land was sold to the Japanese trading houses in the eighties and nineties it did not seem the same. They still own a big chunk of New Zealand but that seems acceptable. Try buying Japanese rice growing land and see how far you get.
I don't agree with Adolf. When you sell the farms you sell the rights to shares in the downstream production. Every farm has a share in Fonterra. I could not give a rats bottom who owns the airports, they are services, but the farms are the core of our heritage and the core of what it means to be a New Zealander. When they go to the Chinese they will not come back. Try going to China to invest as a foreigner in Chinese land and see how far you get.
Asian investors are busy buying agricultural land in Africa where they send their people to manage their investments and the locals become simply tenants. Is that really what New Zealand has descended to? That is the destiny for the next generations? Have we really squandered the heritage of those who broke the bush, planted grass and grew such magnificent farms?
In my view the Overseas Investment Office should review the decision on the basis of Chinese law. If New Zealand corporates are entitled to go to China and buy significant chunks of productive rice growing land in prime areas then they should consider letting the sale go through. If the rules are not the same for foreigners in China as they are for foreigners in New Zealand then we should reject the deal and preserve our birthright.
Otherwise we will never get it back.
UPDATE: Anon in the comments points out that Fonterra is in fact investing in farms in China so I take back the point about OIO getting involved and take some well deserved hits on the chin for suggesting government get involved. If you believe we are competing on an equal international playing field then you are naive, but that was not really the point of the post anyway.
The point of the post was to express sorrow at the fact that New Zealand has over consumed since the fifties to the point where we are becoming tenant farmers from a position close to the wealthiest in the world per capita.
The word "birthright" did give an impression of "right". My family has owned farms in this country for generations. Our extended family still own farms but not in the immediate family. I don't believe that a property owner should be forced to sell to a lower bidder but simply rue the situation where our strongest strategic asset is being diluted by overseas ownership.