How Lochinver Station costs Key the election, our free market land ownership madness and China backlash



The announcement of the $70million Lochinver Station sale to a hulking Chinese company is probably the last thing John Key would have wanted this week.

The idea of Chinese companies buying up large tracts of NZs farming asset is perceived as worse than wealthy investors because state backed Chinese companies are effectively an arm of the Chinese Government. Allowing another country to have that level of influence over vital sections of your economy is as disquieting as John Key signing our economic sovereignty away to the Americans with the TPPA.

Beyond China however, is the basic nationalistic economic mindset held by vast swathes of the NZ public that we shouldn’t be selling our land to anyone from overseas. If foreigners want to lease land and develop that land, come on over, NZ is open for business. If however you just want to waltz up and trick some local sleepy hobbits with big talk and buy vital sections of our productive land for your interests, well we aren’t interested thanks.

We have to appreciate the amazing wonder that is NZ and how in a filthy and polluted world its value will only multiply. Beyond the sale of this land, what sort of intensive farming methods would we see adopted here? How much more intensive would this private company want to push and with that level of money and influence, how soon would we see National Party Ministers having dinners with company members just before a law change allowing 10 story pens with cows in cubicles?

Key is on the other side of the public on this and the heat of it will only build. The problem is that if Key folds, a large chunk of the cheering business community who benefit mostly from NZs lax regulation and free market dynamics would turn like a scorned Colin Craig on National and start screaming.

The real problem here is our free market access to NZ land by foreign owners. When NZ lurched all the way to the right in the 1980s, it was a neoliberal revolution that impacted all sectors, including our attitudes to land sales. The mentality is that no one should have a problem buying up our land because that’s the free market. The concept of national sovereignty is an impediment to global capitalism and so NZ has one of the most relaxed attitudes to people buying up chunks of it.

The Auckland Business Mafia (the Shortland St Social Club) would cease their war chest donations and start unspeakable mischief if National were to walk away from the free market commandment of spineless devotion to external entities with more money than you.

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Speaking of spineless devotion to external entities with more money than you, how does China view such a move? With Dairy prices tumbling and an economy starting to tighten, NZ is in no position to anger its biggest trading partner. China sits by trying to work NZ out, on the one hand our economic future is more aligned with China, and on the other hand we are cuddling up to America with the TPPA. If the deal is blocked by Labour coming into power expect Chinese whiplash, the only pacifier to a blocking of that sale to China could be to also turn down the TPPA with America.

Independence has a price and we need to be prepared to pay for it if Progressives win in September.


  1. The gifting of more than 50,000ha of high country between Lake Wanaka and Queenstown by a foreign owner and all to be protected in the largest conservation undertaking on private land in New Zealand’s history will be the Nats meme here….the old nothing to see except 8,000 NEW jobs with reinvested money from Stevies!!!

    That John Key can spin on a pin and this conservation thing is big news

    • No gift there. It is a commercial arrangement that looks good on paper. High country farmers having been saying for nearly two decades now that there is no future in farming over 900 m asl. Most of the land in the covenant is probably that. There will be some rates relief for him, too. Covenants often give a right for some farming activity (especially grazing) to continue but there has been no mention of this nor what the permitted stocking level (if any). Also, a covenant is the lowest form of “protection” and can usually be revoked by the landowner virtually at will. If he was genuinely concerned about conservation values he would, like most Kiwi run holders, have gone for Tenure Review which would have seen the land pass back into public ownership. All in all it is a timely announcement for the government almost certainly aimed at drawing attention away from further sales to foreign companies!

  2. To quote John Key in 04/08/14 (and others)

    “The point here is that everyone should be treated equally if they’re a foreign buyer, so if people are opposed to foreign ownership of New Zealand land, it’s a legitimate position for someone to adopt,” he said.

    However Key of course mislead and left out a big part of the “equal”….


    According to AUT University Professor of Public Policy Ian Shirley:

    “The Chinese do not sell land to overseas interests they lease land and they encourage overseas investment, but only in strategic industries or areas of economic development that they nominate or control,” said Shirley.

    You see John, where’s the “equal” in the mindless full and final selling of strategic New Zealand land.

    If we can buy land in China, well maybe, but we can’t, end of story, so National, sort your shit out, stop lying and misleading and STOP flogging of New Zealand to whoever you can!

  3. There’s another big bold claim here and its from the owners selling this land (Stevensons??) that the sale of the land will create 8000 jobs.

    Where is the evidence of this, is that 8000 new jobs next year, or 8000 jobs in a 100 years or what??

    If you are a shit employer and chew through staff like there’s no tomorrow you could say, even in a small cafe that has 3 staff for example that you’ve employed 25 people in the past year. And to look good you would leave out the fact that 22 have left in the same year. That’s how easy it is to misquote such numbers and mislead.

    This pie in the sky sort of claim of 8000 jobs is of course being used to justify this sale with not a shred of proof that these are additional instant jobs.

    I believe none of it

    • Yeah, would definitely like to see this business plan which is going to provide 8000 jobs at an industrial park in Drury. How much can be built for 70 million?

      I’m sure the OIO will be all over it.

    • You will find I think that the promise is ‘up to 8000 jobs’. Could be 1 job or none, if you’re as practised a liar as John Key.

  4. Hey Martyn, drawing correlation here with Mighty River Power selling land at Marsden point and Ruakaka on the international market.

    Except the land in question is subject to return to the people it was confiscated from, so the sale has been accelerated before that can happen.

    Aotearoa is for sale.

  5. A day ago, John Key was on the ropes, lots of fairly blue, some even permanent blues, were prepared to vote according to what they think about all these sales to foreigners
    Then along came a youtube video of Kim Dotcom rarking up a bunch of drunken students and have them chanting Fuck John Key and guess what, the anti-farm sales people who could have put paid to him have probably gone back to him
    I am bloody angry with Internet-Mana right at this minute

    • Perhaps the succinct message of the students also expressed indelibly just who the culprits are who are selling off our soveriegnty as well…..this is also the land for these young folk to grow up into…..

      What sort of legacy are we leaving them?

    • Raegun, Please don’t be angry with Internet Mana, these students have seen what has happened in the housing market, where wealthy overseas buyers have pushed the prices so high, that young NZ’ers are now unable to afford to buy their own homes.

      Are they going to sit back and see the same situation happen with NZ Farms – I don’t think so.

      They can see many of their peers who have studied hard and received degrees and now are struggling with huge debt, but no jobs.

      These young people have the guts to stand up and be counted and let John Key see what they really think of him and his Party, and if Internet Mana is the platform they use to bring this into our homes then so be it.

      These students deserve to be heard.

  6. Martyn,
    Remember,NZ land has always had overseas owners since colonisation. It’s nothing new.Just another ironsand,electricity,logs,etc on the balance sheet to the beancounters..our resources being extracted and sold off in the name of ‘progress’.
    -What would be interesting is to reveal the real numbers…

  7. If not signing the TPPA with american would be a pacifier to the chinese, I’m all for it. If it needs to be sold that way for the public to PPA, great, whip out the dummy and dip it in honey.

  8. Lochinvar Station is a bit of an icon, really, bigger by far than Crafar Farms. That it’s sale has not really dipped over the radar in the news (from my perception anyway) says something about the tenacity of the Crafar family. I have heard that Lochinvar has not been so well run in the immediate past; it’s the sort of thing the Commerce Commission one would have thought would be taking a good look at. Definitely sales of land to overseas interests should come to a screeching halt. Many, many countries do not allow it. Denmark, for example, will not allow a foreign national to own any house/land/building anywhere in the country.

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