Key and Little both want deals with Chinese that deliver benefits to New Zealand

Both Prime Minister John Key and Opposition leader Andrew Little want to press visiting President Xi Jinping for Chinese investment that benefits New Zealand.

Mr Key said yesterday he was especially interested in partnerships and suggested that some under-developed land in communal Maori ownership could benefit hugely from partnerships with Chinese companies.

Mr Xi and his wife, Madam Peng Liyuan, were met in Auckland last night by Mr Key and Mayor Len Brown and are due to spend today in Wellington, including being hosted at a state lunch, and tomorrow in Auckland.

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Mr Key told Federated Farmers yesterday that contrary to public opinion, little New Zealand farmland was in Chinese ownership - plenty was in US and German ownership.

But when it came time to assess the sale of the Crafer farms to Shanghai Pengxin, not a single other farm could be found with Chinese ownership.

However he said he did not believe there was much use in foreign investment in New Zealand farms which were already highly efficient. "What we are interested in doing is building partnerships and building opportunities."

He said the thing he liked about Shanghai Pengxin, which bought Lochinver Station as well as the Crafer farms, was "they have got amazing distribution capability in China".

"If you can get that product branded and marketed, you are in pretty amazing shape."

He said there was 1.5 million ha of land in communal Maori ownership and, with changes to Te Ture Whenua Act (Maori Land Act), and partnering with companies such as Shanghai Pengxin to provide development capital and distribution, the potential for China and New Zealand was "win-win".

Mr Little, elected Labour leader only on Tuesday, is due to meet President Xi tomorrow.

It is a routine part of the schedule for any visiting leader to meet the Leader of the Opposition.

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"I'm keen to talk about Chinese investment interests in New Zealand in terms of investment interests that generate work and generate jobs. That's the priority," Mr Little said.

He wanted to talk about Chinese interests in New Zealand today - "how they are going and how we can ensure that when China does invest, Chinese interests invest in New Zealand, they are investments that lead to jobs and to good jobs".

During the visit Massey University will confer an honorary doctorate on the President's wife, formerly a famous singer. Among the large delegation will be State Councillor Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and the director of the general office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Li Zhanshu.