Foreign investors buying another station, Peters claims

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 15:37 05/08/2014

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NZ First leader Winston Peters is claiming a second major land sale to foreign investors is underway, for a station near Gisborne. 

Speaking to a Grey Power meeting in Rangiora, Peters said the party had learned an application was pending for the overseas sale of Wheturau Station at Whatatutu, 65km north of Gisborne.

Peters said the 1037 hectare farm was being sold for $5.5 million to unknown foreign buyers.

"How do we know it's being sold to overseas interests?

"Because we called up the agents, Bayleys, expressing interest in buying, and were told it's already been sold offshore," Peters said.

Wheturau is being marketed as a "top flight breeding and finishing station or a superb large-scale dairy grazing unit".

A spokesman for the Overseas Investment Office said an application to sell the farm had not yet been received.

Bayley's Gisborne real estate agent James MacPherson confirmed there was "an agreement", over the sale of the farm, which had been "marketed widely" throughout New Zealand.

He said an application to the OIO had not yet been submitted but "was likely to go ahead".

Peters' claim comes less than a week after Conservative Party leader Colin Craig revealed Lochinver Station, in the central North Island, was awaiting OIO approval to be purchased by Shanghai Pengxin - the same company which purchased the Crafar farms in 2011. 

Prime Minister John Key said had not heard the claims, but hoped Peters had his facts straight.

Earlier this year, Peters wrongly claimed Taupo's iconic Huka Lodge had been sold off to Chinese interests.

But Key also said he thought some parties had been disingenuous when it came to opposing foreign investment. 

"I think what New Zealanders will see is that there's lots of things opposition parties say in the campaign trail, which isn't necessarily what they've done when they've been in Government," he said.

"At least giving a little bit of credit to Winston Peters, over 30-odd years of his political career, he's been pretty consistent that he doesn't want New Zealanders trading with foreigners, welcoming foreigners, having foreign investment." 

Peters has promised to buy back land sold to foreign buyers, where his party deems it to be "strategic to New Zealand interests".

The Conservative Party has also said it would block the sale of New Zealand land to overseas buyers, while Labour has promised it would tighten rules around such purchases.

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