An Austrian billionaire has won state clearance to buy a Hawke's Bay station for $8 million.
The Overseas Investment Office granted consent for Wolfgang Leitner to buy the 800ha Ponui Station at Kotemaori, Wairoa. The vendor is Ponui Station Ltd owned by Annette Elizabeth Couper and Jellicoe Trustee Services.
Leitner's fortune has been estimated US$1.5 billion and his application was approved under a special forestry test, brought in more than a year ago, to smooth the way for more forestry investment.
The station has 713ha in grazing for sheep and beef sock, 14ha of commercial forestry and Leitner plans to plant a further 640ha in commercial forestry.
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A 32ha area is in native bush and 113ha is unplantable. The farm is 85km from Napier and 45km from Wairoa. Leitner intends to replant after harvesting existing crops of trees.
When Bayleys advertised Ponui, they said it was "clean hill country with the opportunity to further extend production levels and capability." The farm had previously been run in conjunction with a neighbouring farm. It has views over the Pacific, a homestead site in a private spot, airstrip, satellite yards and fencing.
Last September, Leitner won consent to buy Ngapuke Station, 489ha of land classified as sensitive at Tahunga, Gisborne for $4.5m. Again, the consent was granted under the special forestry test.
"The applicant will plant approximately 390ha as a commercial forest. The remainder of the land includes existing vegetation (native trees) or land unsuitable for planting. The commercial forest is due to be harvested around the year 2045 and replanted following harvest," the Overseas Investment Office said of that application.
The vendors were Christine Anne Waddell and Ngapuke Stn Trustee Co.