Rural round-up

March 18, 2019

Dairy industry riding to rescue as property boom economy falters – Liam Dann:

It looks like New Zealand’s dairy sector is riding to the economic rescue – again.

Given the aspirations we have to transform and diversify the economy, that’s almost a bit disappointing.

But right now I’ll take it – and so should the Government. . . 

Shania effect swallows farmland:

It is called the Shania effect, named after the Canadian singer-songwriter who in 2004 with her then husband Mutt Lange, paid $21.5 million for Motatapu and Mt Soho Stations in Otago’s lakes district.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The marriage subsequently split and Lange kept ownership of the properties before adding Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, taking his holding to more than 53,000ha of pastoral land from Glendhu Bay near Wanaka to Coronet Peak near Queenstown.

He later invested heavily in environmentally sympathetic development that removed reliance on livestock farming.

That included spending $1.6 million over three years controlling wilding pines, weeds and pests, planting river margins and fencing waterways and sensitive shrublands. .

Rabobank head strongly linked with land, South – Sally Rae:

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris has always had a connection with farming – and the South.

While not choosing to pursue a career in hands-on farming, the way it worked out meant he had that “absolute connection” and focus on agriculture, he said during a visit to Dunedin last week.

He might not get back to the South that often but when he did get the opportunity to drive through his old haunts, it was a reminder of what it was “all about”, he said.

Born in Tapanui, where his father was a stock agent, Mr Charteris grew up in West Otago, South Otago and Southland. . . 

Raukumara Conservation Park, the dying forest – Michael Neilson:

A bare forest floor, erosion, slips and no birdsong explain the state of the once-flourishing Raukumara Conservation Park. And experts say there might be less than 10 years to save it. Michael Neilson reports.

Standing in the middle of the Raukumara Conservation Park should be one of those picture perfect, 100% Pure New Zealand moments.

The birdsong should be deafening, rich with raucous kākā, chirping tūī and kōkako.

The forest floor should be lush, with new trees rising up and filling the gaps in the canopy. . . 

We’re doing it wrong – Alan Williams:

Exporters are sitting on a gold mine but failing to sell their provenance story overseas, British grocery expert Rob Ward says.

They need to cash in on sensory perception and the Love Triangle.

“New Zealand is incredibly good at what it does but not enough people know about it,” Ward, a United Kingdom grocery data and analytics expert has been told people at Agri-food Week in Palmerston North.

Lamb is a prime example of how the NZ message can be improved. . . 

Rise of women in agriculture an encouraging sign – Robbie Sefton:

Of all the various ways that humanity has devised for splitting itself into tribes, gender tribes are surely the most pointless. 

Men and women are undoubtedly capable of widely differing viewpoints, and are perfectly capable of exasperating each other, but we are literally nothing without each other.

That’s why it’s been wonderfully encouraging to watch the rise of women in agriculture over the past few decades. 

What was once an industry wholly associated with blokes (at least on the surface) is rapidly becoming one that, in terms of participation, is pretty gender-equal. . . 


Sir Eion Edgar: wealthy foreigners benefit NZ

March 12, 2018

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.


Foreign owner’s conservation gift

August 6, 2014

New Zealand’s largest-ever conservation covenant of 53,000 hectares between Arrowtown and Wanaka is the result of the generosity and foresight of a foreign owner.

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith made the announcement yesterday:

“The permanent protection of this idyllic area of Otago that forms the backdrop for Wanaka and Arrowtown is a fantastic conservation achievement. The area between the Shotover River and Cardrona Range covering 80 per cent of the Motatapu, Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations is equivalent to the combined size of the Abel Tasman and Paparoa National Parks. The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust secures protection for about 3500 hectares per year and so to achieve 53,000 in a single covenant is extraordinary,” Dr Smith says.

“The covenant protects a wide variety of ecosystems from wetlands, tussock grasslands, native shrub lands, alpine cushion fields and stunning mountain peaks. The area already hosts the annual Motatapu event and a multi-day tramping track from Glendhu Bay to Arrowtown. Added areas are to be opened up for public access and enjoyment as part of the agreement reached with the landowner.

“I want to acknowledge this extraordinary act of generosity by Soho Property Limited and Mr Mutt Lange. This huge conservation covenant illustrates how overseas ownership can bring benefits to New Zealand. They have invested millions in weed and pest control, fencing and over 95 per cent of the stations are now in protection. New Zealanders have greater access to this stunning country and better facilities than ever before. We should judge proposals for overseas ownership of farms on merit rather than simplistic bans that would lose positive initiatives like this.

This would never happen if the xenophobic policies of Labour, New Zealand First and their anti-foreign ownership fellow travellers.

“This initiative is part of the Government’s broader programme of achieving more for conservation through partnerships. The Government increased the funding for the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust this year from $3.2 million to $4.2 million per annum as well as establishing the $26 million Community Conservation Partnership Fund. The Government does not need to own every area of land with conservation values and can achieve more by helping private sector conservation.”

In Labour’s last term it stopped pastoral lease land being covented in this way.

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is an independent statutory organisation established in 1977 to secure long-term protection of natural and cultural features on private land. The Trust partners with landowners on open space covenants, which are legally binding protection agreements registered on the title of the land. Covenants are voluntary but once in place, they bind the current and all subsequent owners of the affected land.

“I commend the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust on securing this covenant and their work with Soho Property Limited. This is the largest covenant ever achieved, with covenants generally averaging 30 hectares. This is an important and lasting legacy for the protection of New Zealand’s heritage that will be appreciated for generations to come.”

This shows that ownership by the public, or individual New Zealanders, isn’t essential for conservation.

Dr Smith said the agreement showed the Government did not need to own every area of land with conservation values, and could achieve more by helping private sector conservation.

Little would be gained from having the land in a conservation or national park, as the covenants provided ”very strong” protection – ”albeit the public is getting the benefit, but someone else is meeting the costs of the ongoing maintenance of the area”.

”We’re ending up with 95% of these four huge stations in protection with good quality public access and improved visitor facilities.

”It’s a real message to those who are point-blank opposed to overseas ownership that you need to be more flexible than that.”

Soho Properties lawyer Willy Sussman said he had been ”at pains” to explain to Mr Lange the magnitude of what he was agreeing to.

”I was almost labouring the point – I asked him ‘do you understand what this means?”

”His reply was just one word – ‘absolutely’.”

As well as being a ”musical genius”, his Switzerland-based client was an unconventional and far-sighted thinker who wanted to ”make a positive difference to the world”.

”He doesn’t do it for fame, he doesn’t do it for fortune, and he doesn’t do it for publicity – he does it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust chairman James Guild said Mr Lange had made an ”extraordinary bequest to the country” that went far beyond any Overseas Investment Office requirements.

As well as protecting native plant and animal habitats and historic and recreation values, the agreement would formalise and improve public access to the area.

Soho Properties and the trust were working with the New Zealand Walking Access Commission, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, the Queenstown Trails Trust and local walking and mountain biking groups to further improve public access.

”It will effectively be New Zealand’s first national park in private hands.”

The company was spending ”significant sums” to control wilding pines, weeds, goats, possums and mustelids.

It was also planting on river margins and fencing off waterways, wetlands, tussocklands and shrublands. . .

Lange and his ex-wife bought Motatapu Station with the approval of the last Labour government.  Something current leader David Cunliffe is turning his back on and says wouldn’t happen again under his watch.

Lange’s is an extraordinarily generous gift to New Zealand and the world.

It wouldn’t have been possible had the policies Labour and the other parties on the left had been in force then.

It won’t be possible if they enact their policies even though the economic and environmental benefits from it can’t be questioned.


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