NZ a 'trading company' says Peters

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 15:37 21/02/2014
huka
LANDMARK: Huka Lodge's appeal is legendary, attracting guests from across the world.
Winston Peters
GRANT MATTHEW/ Fairfax NZ
NZ FIRST LEADER: Winston Peters.

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Winston Peters claims the world famous Huka Lodge near Taupo is being sold to Chinese buyers with the blessing of Prime Minister John Key.

Peters made reference to the sale during his state of the nation speech in Takapuna this afternoon, in which he warned that overseas investment was bringing nothing to New Zealand.

"Let me tell you something, Huka Lodge has just been sold to the Chinese... and I want you to go and ask John Key what role he had in this," Peters said.

After the speech Peters claimed he had been told of the sale by real estate sources.

"My informant says John Key has said to these people: 'Don't worry about it, we'll smooth it through the Overseas Investment Office,'" Peters said.

Louise Smythe, director of global sales and marketing for Huka Lodge scotched Peters' allegation that the iconic Waikato riverside resort had been sold.

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

Asked if she could absolutely confirm that Huka Lodge was not sold, she refused to make any further comment.

The Waikato Times called the lodge's media manager, Jane Corbett-Jones, who was in Turkey at a conference. She had no knowledge of the sale.

A search of the Terranet website showed the lodge was owned by Worldwide Leisure Ltd and data was current to February 2014.

A Companies Office database search showed Worldwide Leisure company directors as Alex van Heeren, of Belgium, Peter Engels, of Queensland, David McGregor, of Auckland, and George Luoni, of Hamilton.

Van Heeren is also listed online as the owner of Dolphin Island, Fiji, which is linked to Huka Lodge, and of Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate in South Africa under the Huka Retreats brand.

NZ A 'TRADING COMPANY'

New Zealand has become a "trading company" since the economic reforms of the 1980s, NZ First leader Winston Peters says, and needs to reform its immigration laws.

Outlining what he says is the "real" state of the nation, Peters claimed asset sales and "open door" immigration was a major failure.

"New Zealand has become a business with deals to be done, assets to be sold, and the cost of labour to be reduced," he told hundreds of members of the North Shore Grey Power at the Ami Netball Centre in Takapuna.

"A third of New Zealand voters have no memory of the great country we once were.

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"All they've known is a persistent, malignant, economic experiment that after 30 years keeps telling them that if only we tweak a few policies, all will become right."

Peters' speech - which comes a month after the other major political parties delivered set out their views of the state of the nation - contained no policy announcements, and signalled a continued focus on immigration, and criticism of Treaty of Waitangi negotiations.

Dismissing claims by some commentators that New Zealand had a "rock star" economy, Peters said the policies since 1984 were a failure.

"[If] this is really working why would the current crop of politicians have sold offshore so much of New Zealand's wealth built up by the people of this country in the hundred years before this new bunch came to power?" he said.

Peters said that in the past immigration was used to bring in necessary skills, but in recent years this had been replaced with "open door" policies, and said New Zealand's population had seen turnover of 12 per cent in five years.

"In total half a million people have moved into and out of New Zealand ... New Zealand has gone from a nation of united people to an urban collection of communities, many clinging to where they were, rather than where they are now," Peters said, calling for immigrants to "fit in".

"When people come to New Zealand, NZ First says they should fit in and contribute to our laws, our values, our culture, language and traditions."

Immigration policy must be used only to attract skills that were needed.

"Economics, like charity, begins at home," he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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