Not enough New Zealanders appreciate the benefits of foreign investment and economic growth, says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

The reaction of too many people was "you can't do this, you can't do that, you can't do the other thing", he said, with little thought to the impact it had on potential jobs.

"The same people tend to turn around and demand more jobs one minute and then declare that they don't want to see any things over here happen."

Mr Joyce is trying to lead a debate to gain greater acceptance of foreign investment and economic growth, be it in minerals exploration, improving infrastructure or companies expanding their businesses to New Zealand.

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It follows a wave of criticism of the Government's final decision to accept the sale of 16 Crafar farms to the Shanghai Pengxin company, and negative responses to increases in oil and gas exploration.

Mr Joyce said that if people wanted more job growth, they had to take a more positive attitude to investment in the New Zealand environment, especially given the mobility of people and the mobility of capital.

"There a sort of a sense among some people that there is some magic by which you can achieve jobs without considering the tradeoffs."

It was not enough to just want higher skills or just green tech jobs. "We need to take a bit more of a realistic understanding of what does create jobs and encourage investments."

Economic growth required the use of capital, resources, skilled labour, infrastructure, innovation and a market.

"So all those things have to be managed. It's not a case of carte blanche but every time you say 'I don't want that' that shuts off another opportunity."