"It should be a privilege to own a farm in this country."

That is a very warm, fuzzy and altruistic view of how you deal with land sales. The government tossed that line in, of course, to soften up what they're actually doing: trying to get rid of offshore buyers.

Yes, you can still apply. But the rules have fundamentally changed.

This is a good Labour, New Zealand first, and for that matter Greens policy. It's what they promised. It's what they believe. And it will have no great shortage of support.


There is unquestionably an undercurrent of resentment towards normally wealthy foreigners who come here and buy up vast tracks of land, with an ensuing backlash from those who think it's been stolen from us.

Forgetting of course that most of these people aren't robber barons, they see the opportunity that perhaps sadly we don't, and they look to exploit in a positive way what we would appear to take for granted.

Julian Robertson is a person who springs to mind. He's got three lodges catering to the high-value part of the tourism industry. He's helped that part of the market no end, he's built golf courses, he runs farms on the properties, he's given millions worth of his art to galleries. What more could you want from a foreign investor? Could he have done all that under the new rules? And to prove how tight the government wants these rules, it's land down to just five hectares - and five hectares isn't a farm, it's a lifestyle block.

Forestry, to be fair, is exempted. Because they've worked out foreign money is needed, and badly. But here is the major problem with all of this: it's capping the size of the market, it's killing the value of businesses, land and property. If a business is only worth what someone will pay for it, the pool has shrunk to four and a-half million down from seven billion. You can't tell me it won't have an effect.

As a small country at the bottom of the world, we need the world. We engage and do business with the world.

Lots of countries don't let you buy land, but that's because they don't have to. We are not in that luxurious a position.

Here's what I know. When you list your house, you want top dollar. Whether that top dollar comes from Bob from Tauranga, Amanda from London or Lee from Beijing, you aren't that bothered.

At least let's be honest about it. The theory on foreign money is good; the reality when it hits your back pocket is a whole different story.