Chinese consortium gets Crafar farms nod

The Government has gone with China over the local rivals led by Sir Michael Fay, in the Crafar Farms land sovereignty issue.

The Fay consortium will seek a judicial review of the decision.

The issue is contentious because China refuses to allow New Zealand companies to purchase Chinese land or companies, and critics fear opening up New Zealand infrastructural farmland to the global open market will quickly see, as Prime Minister John Key himself put it last year, “New Zealanders becoming tenants on their own land.”

The issue is also contentious becuase the last Chinese consortium that tried to purchase the farms were busted as ‘crooks’ in an Investigate exclusive. Hong Kong authorities have subsequently arrested several of the key players in that story and charged them with fraud.

Full text of the Government’s decision follows:

Ministers approve Crafar farms bid

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Minister of Finance Dr Jonathan Coleman have accepted the recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to grant consent to Milk New Zealand Holding Limited (Milk New Zealand), a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin Group Co. Limited, to acquire the 16 Crafar farms.

“It is clear that all criteria under sections 16 and 18 of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 have been met, therefore we accept the recommendation of the OIO to grant consent,” Mr Williamson said.

“We are satisfied that Milk New Zealand’s application for consent meets the criteria set out in the Act,” Mr Coleman said.

The approval follows the receivers, KordaMentha’s acceptance in late 2010 of Milk New Zealand’s bid for the farms.

Milk New Zealand’s acquisition will further support the supply of high quality dairy products into the Chinese market and help set the foundations for further economic and export opportunities with China.

Stringent conditions policed by the OIO will ensure that Milk New Zealand’s investment delivers substantial and identifiable benefits to New Zealand. These include investing more than $14m into the farms making them more economically and environmentally sustainable; protecting the Nga Herenga and the Te Ruaki pa sites and improving walking access to the Pureora Forest Park and Te Rere falls. An on-farm training facility for dairy farm workers will also be established.

A copy of the OIO’s recommendation is available at:

A copy of the OIO’s Decision summary is available at:

OIO background information is available at: