Government Needs to Come Clean on Foreign Buy-ups of NZ

The current government needs to instigate far stricter controls on foreigners buying up New Zealand’s countryside says the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations as well as keeping the New Zealand public informed of the extent of outsiders buying up the countryside.

“Frustratingly figures are few and far between to make an accurate assessment but the public should be given regular and accurate statistics on an issue which most New Zealanders feel strongly about,” said CORANZ chairman Andi Cockroft.

Most Kiwis Opposed

Past opinion polls indicated as many as 90 percent of New Zealanders were opposed or concerned he said.

In late 2019 it was revealed by Radio NZ that the four largest private landowners in New Zealand are all foreign-owned forestry companies. 

The investigation found, despite a clampdown on some overseas investment, including a ban on residential sales to offshore buyers, the Labour-led government has actively encouraged further foreign purchases of land for forestry through a streamlined “special forestry test”.

Fewer Jobs

Since the 2017-20 coalition, Labour-led government was formed, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has approved more than $2.3 billion of forestry-related land sales – about 31,000 hectares of it previously in New Zealand hands and often sheep and beef farms.

A 2019 analysis of Wairoa, where 8,486 hectares of sheep and beef farmland was converted to forestry, showed forestry provides fewer jobs in rural communities than sheep and beef farms.

Andi Cockroft said the environmental effects of turning the New Zealand hill country into monocultures of pines were detrimental. 

Silt Deposits

The clear-felling practices result in the deposition of silt into rivers, streams and coastal estuarine areas and pine debris littering beaches.

There were other negative results from pine trees with impoverished and acidification of soils and excessive water intake by pines resulting in dry creek riverbeds.

He said the only source of data on foreign purchases seemed to be the “Watchdog” bulletin of the organisation Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA).

Not NZ Companies

“In CAFCA’s latest “Watchdog” it was revealed in just four weeks i.e. January 2021 decisions showed overseas forestry interests of a UK company, an Austrian countess and a Japanese  company purchased land for exotic forestry.”

It was difficult to pinpoint foreigners as mostly they disguised themselves as New Zealand companies.

In the January 2021 approvals by the Overseas Investment Office, Summit Forests NZ Ltd is 100% Japanese owned while Ellis Campbell NZ Ltd is 100% UK owned.

“Government owes it to the public to strip these smoke and mirrors disguises away and give the true extent of the sell-out,” he said

Outdoor Access

Access to the public’s outdoor recreation such as fishing, tramping, hunting and other pursuits, usually suffered as overseas buyers invariably came from a culture different from New Zealand’s egalitarian society.

“Locked gates are the usual consequence of foreign buyers of New Zealand’s rural land whereas the traditional Kiwi farmers almost always gave access permission to bona fide recreationalists.”


Contact: Andi Cockroft  027 204 1878


Tolaga Bay beach covered in pine debris – Photo Stuff NZ


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6 Responses to Government Needs to Come Clean on Foreign Buy-ups of NZ

  1. Michael Gregg says:

    In almost all cases where I’ve asked for access, I’ve found farm managers and landowners are generous and helpful, including keeping an eye on my vehicle during multi-day backcountry trips that necessitate accessing the conservation estate through private property. The few instances where I have been refused access or met a locked gate on a paper road have all been New Zealanders running New Zealand companies.

    By agreeing to publish this media release, the NZFFA is implied as endorsing a xenophobic stance against New Zealand companies majority owned by foreign interests, without acknowledging New Zealand companies majority owned by domestic interests follow the same practice, likely in greater numbers. The issue of access is unrelated to company ownership structure and I’m hopeful that the NZFFA’s official position is more thoughtful, and less dog-whistle.

    Increasingly it seems, private land owners’ attitude to allowing anglers onto their land is related to an owner’s past negative experiences, together with a general hardening of attitudes against anglers due to increasing antagonism. This is something we all need to work on, as an international angling community.

    The NZFFA may be able to play a role in identifying opportunities to work with landowners and their managers, regardless of the nationality of the owner, and alongside F&G who already do this. Together we can encourage all landowners to continue to allow angler access and to reopen access where this is now denied, regardless of owners’ country of origin.

    • Gerald Honewell says:

      Is this the same Michael Greg co-opted to the NZFFA Executive? If so I suspect there’s “Trouble at Mill” with this rather shonky dissenting voice.


      To suggest F&G are somehow working to secure access; I see precious little of that in recent times – they appear instead to be in complete disarray with an independent review long overdue. We can only await the results, but I suspect it will be a damp squib tying F&G even closer to DOC and even further under its thumb, removing any suggestion of independence from the Government.


      As more and more arable land is being sold off to large corporates, mostly foreign, and subsequently converted to the monoculture of pine, the effects on our waterways are devastating. Lower flows as pine suck up the water and evaporate it, creates highly acidic soils with subsequent acidic run-offs.


      Worse of all come harvest time, every 30 years or so, the sediment runoff and release of massive quantities of slash just waiting for heavy rainfall to create havoc for innocent residents downstream. See the Tolaga Bay photo in the original article.

  2. David Haynes says:

    I agree largely with what Michael says, but, I am aware of a number of instances where the reporting of cows in waterways or other delinquent activities of some farmers has led to subseuqent denial of access. This effectively gags a lot of anglers from doing what I belieive is the right thing (exposing negligent and polluting behaviour of the public commons by private interests).

    The solution? Send your pics, videos or other evidence of such activity and we will publish it on your behalf.

  3. Greg Kemp says:

    Great to see NZFFA putting the word out there. Saw the same or very similar Press Release from the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations on Scoop earlier.

    Promise after promise over successive governments has failed to address the issue despite all their election promises.

    I am locked out of several local forestry blocks that transferred from Kiwi ownership first to Chinese and subsequently to a US corporation – forget the name “NZ” in the company title – these giant corporations are all foreign-owned. Look at the shareholder register.

    NZFFA - New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers

  4. Pete Watson says:

    I agree with a fair bit of what Michael says”
    However instead of using the word xenophobic I would install patriotic. Far too much of our land has and is being sold offshore.
    The interests from offshore have zero regard to environment. It is always good PR to be seen to be at one with the community and nature but in reality a boardroom on the other side of the globe has absolutely no interest in anything us Kiwis are squabbling about instead they only see the profit n loss.
    Keep NZ open but keep the keys in NZ

  5. Joe H says:

    I heartily support Andi Cockroft’s concern about the selling off of NZ land to overseas interests. Genuine New Zealand farming families over the years have never been unduly restrictive in allowing the genuine outdoor users access. Overseas interests have big bucks and would pay tomorrow to get their hands on it and set up bolt holes and have their own exclusive hunting and fishing estate while New Zealanders are locked out.
    It’s happened in a number of situations in Canterbury, South Canterbury and Otago.
    To say New Zealanders opposing the sellout of our high country and hill country to overseas interests as phobic is naive. The government despite making promises, has done nothing to curb the selling off of New Zealand’s countryside.
    Well spoken CORANZ. Hear,Hear I say.

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