Southern businessman and philanthropist Sir Eion Edgar told the Finance and Select committee that the law banning foreigners from buying property would be detrimental to New Zealand’s international reputation and greatly restrict overseas parties contributing to the benefit of New Zealand.
He gave four examples showing how rich overseas people have enhanced New Zealand to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
1. Public access to iconic South Island high-country stations
Robert “Mutt” Lang bought five farming stations between Wanaka and Queenstown for about $60m, Edgar said. He then spent a further $50m restoring these properties to their original state.
“He has now gifted over 90 per cent of them to the Queen Elizabeth Trust for the benefit and use by all New Zealanders. In addition he continues to maintain these properties at a cost of $3m to $5m per annum – a gift to New Zealand of over $100m,” Edgar’s submission said.
• 2. Expansion and investment in Millbrook Resort near Arrowtown
Eiichi Ishii, the Japanese businessman who owns Millbrook Resort, was “continuing to pour money into it. We now have a world-class golf and accommodation facility all New Zealanders can benefit from. To date they would have spent several $100m,” Edgar said.
• 3. $40m restoration of Glenorchy camp ground
“Paul and Debbi Brainerd purchased the run-down Glenorchy camp ground. At a cost of approximately $40m, they are restoring it to an eco-friendly facility, which will cater for all types of visitors. Once completed and proven to be cash-flow positive, it will be gifted in a trust for the benefit of the residents of Glenorchy,” Edgar said.
• 4. Generous community organisation donations
“In raising money for community projects like the Winter Games, Queenstown Trails Trust and the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group, I always find the most generous supporters are overseas people who have a residence in the area,” he said. . .
Opponents to foreign ownership see it as taking something from New Zealand.
They ignore what vendors might do with the money they get for the sales and pay no heed to what the purchasers give to us.