Kiwis still own 99pc of land in Wellington
Are you concerned about foreign land ownership in the Wellington region?
Ninety-nine per cent of land in greater Wellington is still owned by Kiwis, according to an analysis of foreign ownership consents.
In the past seven years, overseas applications to buy 7500 hectares of land in the region were approved by the Overseas Investment Office.
"That's less than 1 per cent of the region's land area, so it dispels the myth Wellingtonians are becoming tenants in their own land," said Mike Donald, managing director of land and property specialist Terralink International.
Hollywood film-maker James Cameron is one of those overseas buyers and he now owns more than 1000ha of native bush and farmland in South Wairarapa.
The office gave Cameron the green light to buy several properties, including a 817ha Pounui property and a 250ha dairy farm, for which he paid about $20 million.
The Titanic and Avatar director is expected to shift to New Zealand with his family this year.
Terralink analysed and mapped the consents to give Kiwis a "reality check" about foreign land ownership, Mr Donald said.
"New Zealanders have no easy way of knowing how much of their land is currently foreign owned, so there is a lot of speculation and uncertainty."
Foreign ownership was put under the spotlight this year when Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin applied to buy the 16 properties known as the Crafar farms.
The High Court overturned approval for the purchase after a challenge from a New Zealand consortium.
At least 312,600ha of land throughout New Zealand has been approved for sale to foreign buyers in the past seven years. Of that, 280,000ha was classed as rural.
If consents to sell to overseas buyers continued at the same rate, then within one generation large parts of productive New Zealand land could potentially be in foreign ownership, Mr Donald said.
Wellington, Manawatu and Hawke's Bay had higher proportions of rural land approved for sale compared with other regions.
Overseas buyers were granted consent to snap up nearly 9 per cent of Wellington's horticultural land – proportionally more than any other region, Mr Donald said.
In Hawke's Bay, 4.38 per cent of horticultural land and 7.58 per cent of dairying land were approved for sale in the same period.
Just 2200ha of rural land in Manawatu was subject to consent to overseas buyers. Bayleys Manawatu country manager Peter Stratton said the consent process was difficult for foreigners.
"They have to show they're going to be good for New Zealand and they have to show that they're going to be good for the farm. It costs a lot and takes a lot of time and effort without any guarantee of being successful, so you wouldn't enter into the process if you weren't determined to own a piece of New Zealand."
Of the 311 applications that the Overseas Investment Office has received in the past seven years, only three have been declined. However, consents do not necessarily mean the acquisition has proceeded and foreign-owned land could subsequently have been resold to a New Zealand citizen.
Terralink derived the data from the Overseas Investment Office through an Official Information Act request and from third-party property data suppliers.
Wellington land sold to overseas buyers:
Dairying, 100 hectares – 0.28 per cent of total dairying land
Pastoral, 6000ha – 1.48 per cent
Horticultural, 200ha – 8.94 per cent Forestry, 200ha – 0.15 per cent
Lifestyle, 100ha – 1.12 per cent Other, 900ha – 0.68 per cent
* Figures relate to consents granted to sell land to overseas buyers between August 2005 and March 2012.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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