Rural round-up

NZ Super Fund sells forestry blocks to Chines, local investors – Paul McBeth:

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund, which today said the value of its portfolio topped $22 billion, has sold the bulk of 11 forestry blocks in the North Island to China National Forest Products Trading Corp for an undisclosed sum, with the remaining going to local investors.

The Chinese company, a subsidiary of state-owned China Forestry Group Corp, bought the majority of the portfolio, subject to Chinese regulatory approval, after getting the thumbs up from New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office, the super fund said in a statement.

The Cullen Fund, so-called for its architect former Finance Minister Michael Cullen, was looking for a buyer for the blocks last year, when it valued the estates at some $91.1 million as at June 30. General manager investments Matt Whineray said the sale would let the fund focus on other domestic and international investment opportunities. . . 

Pivotal time for central farms – Mark Price:

Dozens of centre-pivot irrigation machines installed in the past couple of years are turning the dry plains of Central Otago into lush meadows. But, as Mark Price reports, this is just the beginning.

One farm on the flat near Tarras installed four irrigation pivots over the summer.

Another, on terraces above Tarras, installed eight or nine.

And, when the Tarras water scheme goes ahead there will be room for another 80 to 90 in that area alone.

In the world of irrigation, pivots are the state-of-the-art way of growing crops to feed dairy cows. . .

Maori land bursting with farm potential -Ben Dalton:

Primary industries generate over 70 per cent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.

You’d be forgiven then for thinking that every last hectare of rural land is producing at its maximum. But you’d be wrong.

It has been known for some time that a significant proportion of Maori land is not delivering its potential.

A 2011 Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry report estimated that close to one million hectares were under-productive.

Now, a report commissioned by the Ministry of Primary Industries has allowed a glimpse of what’s at stake in bringing this land into full production – for Maori, the primary industries, and the country. . .

Quest for semi-rural playground – Alison Rudd:

The organisation which runs most of Southland’s kindergartens wants to buy a back yard for urban children who have no access to a semi-rural playground.

Kindergarten South wants a 1ha block close to Invercargill with trees, native bush and perhaps a stream. It will be a place where the 3 and 4-year-olds can ”get back to good old-fashioned play”, business development manager Sandra King said.

”It’s somewhere where they can climb trees, dig worms, puddle in water, draw pictures on the ground using sticks, learn to take a bit of a risk.”. . .

Delegat’s buys Australia’s Barossa Valley Estate assets out of receivership for A$24.7M – Paul McBeth:

Delegat’s Group has bought the assets of Australia’s Barossa Valley Estate out of receivership for A$24.7 million, just two months after snapping up the distressed vineyard and winery assets of Matariki Wines and Stony Bay Wines.

The Auckland-based winemaker, whose stable includes the Oyster Bay brand, will acquire a 5,000 tonne winery, a 41 hectare vineyard in the Barossa Valley, grape grower contracts and inventory and brands, it said in a statement. The deal is expected to settle in June, and will be funded through existing bank facilities. . .

Gunn Estate Ups the Ante With Reserve Range:

Hawke’s Bay’s popular Gunn Estate has just launched a range of Reserve wines, adding to the long history of the brand.

The 2012 Reserve range includes Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Merlot/Cabernet varieties, made with grapes from specially selected vineyards in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough.

Gunn Estate spokesman Denis Gunn says the new range represents the brand’s strong tradition.

“The Gunn Family has worked the land in Hawke’s Bay since 1920 and these wines are about keeping the passion and determination of three generations alive and well,” Mr Gunn says.

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