OIO 'pawn' in a sneaky sale, Peters insists

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2014

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Winston Peters is standing by his claim that one of New Zealand's most famous tourist lodges is being sold, despite both the owner and the Government saying it is not.

During his state of the nation speech in Takapuna yesterday, Mr Peters claimed Huka Lodge, near Taupo, was being sold to Chinese interests, to gasps from some of the hundreds of North Shore Grey Power members listening.

Afterwards he cited real estate sources for his comments. "My informant says John Key has said to these people: ‘Don't worry about it, we'll smooth it through the Overseas Investment Office'."

Later, Peters modified his claim to say the lodge was for sale.

But sale talk was quickly rejected by both the Beehive and lodge management.

"The Overseas Investment Office has spoken to Huka Lodge director and shareholder David McGregor, and he has confirmed no sale has been made or is being considered," Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson said, not long after Mr Key's office said the prime minister would never become involved in OIO applications even if one were in train.

Huka Lodge director of global sales and marketing Louise Smythe rejected the claim.

"None of it is true, no," she said.

But Peters was unrepentant last night, accusing the OIO of having become a "political pawn".

Such was the paperwork involved, the OIO may not know the status of the sale, Peters said.

"It's for sale."

His speech was vintage Peters.

Instead of solving damage done to Maori communities, successive governments had instead taken to a policy of appeasing iwi leaders.

Not only had those done nothing for everyday Maori, it created an industry of "Treaty travellers" who could not be questioned.

An open door policy to immigration was fragmenting New Zealand into hundreds of separate communities, Peters said.

Before being allowed into the country immigrants should be required to show they were prepared to "fit in".

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- The Dominion Post

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