Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Landcorp selling ten farms across country

Ten Lancorp farms covering an area of more than 11,000 rugby fields are going up for sale.
Ten Lancorp farms covering an area of more than 11,000 rugby fields are going up for sale.

Ten state-owned farms covering an area of more than 11,000 rugby fields are going up for sale.

Landcorp is selling four properties on the South Island's West Coast, two in Southland, one in Otago, one in the Manawatu, one on the Wairarapa-Hawke's Bay border, and one in the Waikato-King Country area.

Iwi have first right to purchase the properties under the Treaty of Waitangi, and eight properties are still subject to that process.

The properties that are currently on the open market are the 1483ha Copper Road sheep and beef farm in Otago, and Caroline Terrace on the West Coast, which has 120ha of grazing land on a 470ha property.

PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager Peter Newbold expected there to be some indication on the outcome of the iwi consultation process by Christmas.

The total area of the ten properties is about 11,650 hectares.

"One of the nice things about the Landcorp properties is that they're really good custodians of the land so they're really well looked after so if things aren't right they're fixed, and they're well managed," Newbold said.

"When you take, for example, that Copper Road property, you're just walking into a magnificent property that's been well-looked after and well-managed. So it's a nice thing when you're taking properties like that to the market."

Newbold said there had not been interest from offshore buyers at this stage. He anticipated that the majority of interest would come from regional players, followed by national players - "that's where potentially some offshore players could come in, but they're a smaller group and players that are already in the market".

"Most of these properties will lend themselves to a regional player," he said.

Landcorp, the former Department of Lands and Survey, owns 158,000ha of farmland in New Zealand and manages or leases another 226,000ha. It runs 1.6 million stock units (sheep, beef, deer and dairy) on 137 properties and has a staff of about 700.

A Landcorp spokesman said a large part of the organisation's wealth was in its land holdings and the sale of these properties would help it to invest in its future strategy.

"This has been signaled quite some time, we've bought and sold 140 farms to date and this is just about ensuring that we make the right use of our assets and that we have the right structure of farms for what we want to do going forward," he said.

"To invest you've got to free up assets so essentially it's a case of selling and re-investing."

Labour Party Primary Industries Spokesman Damien O'Connor called the sale a "desperate move" to inject cash into the Government's coffers.

"There will be some who think this will provide opportunities for young New Zealand farmers to get a foot in the door and I'm hoping that is an outcome. But if they are gobbled up by foreign investors then New Zealand is certainly a lot worse off.

"There are clearly a couple of prime properties there that one would have thought should have remained a core part of their portfolio. New Zealanders own these farms through Landcorp, they should be proud of that."

- NZ Herald

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