A foreign-owned forestry company has bought up more than 77,000 hectares of forests in just four years to become the third largest landowner in New Zealand.
Australia-based New Forests Asset Management runs several investment funds here through several subsidiaries.
RNZ journalist Kate Newton has been investigating who owns New Zealand for several months.
She says the speed at which New Forests amassed the land is astonishing.
“They have gone from owning nothing in 2015, as far as we can tell, to now owning 77 and a half thousand hectares. they had an Overseas Investment Office approval just go through last month to buy another piece of land,” Newton says.
New Forests calls itself a “sustainable real assets investment manager offering leading-edge strategies in forestry, land management, and conservation”.
It has more than $5 billion Australian in assets under management globally with investments in Australia, New Zealand, US and Southeast Asia.
More truth you won’t be finding in mainstream media … a long read on Ihumātao. EWR
In this exposé, The Snoopman reveals Fletcher Building Ltd was granted waivers that lay bare the institutional racism of the Crown, the Council and the Courts. Not only were ministerial waivers required for a crucial breach of the Overseas Investment Act to get the Ihumātao land deal approved before the conditional sale agreement time-window ended.
With official documents – some heavily redacted – a picture of collusion is shown to have taken place between the Auckland Council, the Overseas Investment Office, the Key Ministry Cabinet, the Environment Court and the Ardern Coalition Government. Across the governance system, a horrendous story emerges of avoidance to conduct a serious sustained investigation to establish why exactly the bona fide tangata whenua of Ihumātao were stonewalled in their attempts to assert customary rights, while the ‘master plan’ of transnational bank-owned Fletcher Building was fast-tracked.
The contrived ignorance posturing extends to three Māori Labour Caucus members of the Ardern Coalition Government whom knew at least as far back as September 2015 that the Ihumātao Peninsula was never Te Kawerau ā Maki iwi’s traditional ancestral lands. This means the Ardern Coalition Government enjoined itself in the contrived ignorance game of the Auckland Council, the Courts and other Crown agencies whom pretended that Te Warena Taua represented the local iwi of Ihumātao.
Fletchers Collected a Waiver Card in Neo-Feudal Monopoly game
Fletcher Building has maintained throughout the Ihumātao land dispute that every move it made was within the law. It would be more accurate to say the law had their back.
To get the Ōruarangi housing development at Ihumātao through a significant regulatory hoop, a joint waiver was required by two Key Ministry Crown Ministers in early September 2014 to over-ride breaches to the Overseas Investment Act of 2005.
The Wallace-Blackwell Family company, Gavin H Wallace Limited, owner of ‘the Wallace Block’ – as the highly contested land at Ihumātao is locally known – failed to advertise the farm land on the open market prior to sale to the transnational construction company, Fletcher Building.
The Overseas Investment Office required a waiver because the Overseas Investment Act was breached since sales of rural properties located adjacent to ‘sensitive land’ such as historic reserves are meant to be advertised for sale in the 12-month period preceding an application to approve a purchase by an overseas buyer.
Breach of Overseas Investment Act Approved: Two Crown Ministers waivered the requirement in section 16 of the Overseas Investment Act 2005, that farm land be advertised for sale on the open market in the 12 month period prior to sale to an overseas buyer.
Certainly NZ is being sold lock, stock and barrel. The National Government seems indeed set on disposing of land hand over fist, along with our State Housing and other assets. This is the way of corporations … remember, our government is a corporation. The face of our country is truly changing in a very disturbing way. Watch this space. EnvirowatchRangitikei
“New Zealand land continues to go under the hammer to foreign buyers but no one is holding buyers to their promises of job and wealth creation for New Zealanders.
Strange, given the approvals are based on those promises. Oddly, no applications get rejected. In the last two years they have all been approved.
The promises, which give them the go ahead, include job creation, investment, protection of indigenous plants, donations to local organisations or schools, etc.
The Overseas Investment Office, the apparent guardian of our precious land, is letting us down. But the fault lies with the government which should be staffing it adequately and giving it the correct mandate…”