Winston Peters: A million hectares gone, tsunami of buyers expected

28/07/2014

So much New Zealand land is being sold to foreigners, the office that is supposed to be the watchdog for Kiwis should be renamed the Office for Selling off New Zealand.

Under National, over one million hectares have been sold to foreign interests in just five and a half years. With every land or house purchase by a foreigner, prices are rising. As a result, Kiwis face more competition to own land, farms and houses. We can’t compete against foreign money, particularly when many overseas buyers have access to interest rates of two percent - some are lower.

There are warning signs that current sales are only the tip of the iceberg. A report from the United States Week says a tsunami of Chinese buyers is about to leave China and buy up a swathe of property in the US. There has already been a wave of buying: in 2013, Chinese buyers snapped up $11 billion of real estate in the US.

We know New Zealand is a favoured destination, hence the housing bubble in Auckland. We can expect this property buying tsunami to hit here too, it is time to act.

National is dismissive of any concern and is content with the sell-off of farms that have been developed by hard-working Kiwis over generations. It is not worried about the housing sales, either.

National claims foreigners have only bought one percent of New Zealand. This is nonsense. The government does not keep records on foreign purchases, so no precise figure can be given for past sales, but estimates show such sales are rising. One economist says a conservative estimate is about 10 percent of farmland and forestry land have gone to offshore ownership.

New Zealand First has a bill written that will mean comprehensive sales figures are kept on a register in future. We will ban sales of land and houses to non-residents. This will go a long way to stabilising prices and give Kiwis a better chance to get into a home and on to the land. Foreign investment will be allowed, only if significant benefit to New Zealand can be shown.

Whole sectors of our economy are in foreign hands, it is not just banking. Forestry land and vineyards have been targeted by foreigners. Remember, overseas buyers export their profits back home. A big loss to our economy.

In the last five years the countries who bought up most land include the US, Canada, Israel, the UK, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Monaco, China, Italy and Malaysia.

Our assets are popular. We must keep a watch over our land and housing. There is an urgent need to keep the country for ourselves and our benefit.

source: data archive