Crafar chasers to challenge decision

Photo / Christine Cornege
Photo / Christine Cornege

The New Zealand consortium chasing the Crafar farms says its appeal will go ahead against aspects of the court decision that forced the government to reconsider its support for their sale to Chinese buyers.

At his media conference today, Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson questioned whether the Crafar Farms Purchase Group was still pursuing its appeal.

However, a spokesman for the group said in an email that "notice of the appeal was lodged by Bell Gully six to eight weeks ago, we're just waiting a date.

"Maurice needs better minions."

The group was initially fronted and bankrolled by merchant banker Sir Michael Fay, but also involved Maori bidders who claimed iwi affiliation to the land. Among conditions imposed on the sale of the farms by the Overseas Investment Office is transfer of a culturally important Maori site for no payment.

"It is hard to comprehend that this sale can go ahead only because a government owned entity, Landcorp, has partnered with Shanghai Pengxin to provide the necessary business acumen and expertise required for OIO approval," said Sir Michael in a press statement that made no reference to the pending appeal.

"Our group has always believed that this requirement cannot be met by simply buying in local expertise. This would mean that any potential foreign owner would be approved if they could 'buy in' sufficient New Zealand expertise to effectively make a nullity of this key requirement in the OIO rules."

The appeal relates to how the OIO applied the "business acumen" test, given the Chinese property investor Shanghai Pengxin had no dairying expertise and plans to use Landcorp to farm the land.

- BusinessDesk

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