From memory the income sections in the Census didn't include a $1,000,000,000 or more a year bracket, so if the results ever come in they won't tell us how many billionaires are in the population.

Billionaires are notoriously reluctant to share personal information, which is why it's so hard to estimate how many there are, although it's clear an increasing number of them are moving here.

This is why the Government has come up with the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, which proposes to restrict purchases of existing homes to New Zealand and Australian citizens and permanent residents of both countries.

Like many of this Government's actions so far, it is hastily put together, ill-thought out and has enough holes in it to drive a customised Maserati through.


Enough money can get you just about anything and I'm sure a lawyer capable of spotting the loopholes in the law and finding a way to take advantage of them wouldn't be out of the average billionaire's price range.

It's one small expense to add to the relative pittance they have paid for their premium property.

New Zealand really does offer a good deal. They get their own slice of majestic landscape at a bargain price, and in return we get the sort of respect that comes from being bought cheap.

But not everyone is against wealthy foreigners buying premium real estate. Wealthy New Zealanders are quite keen. Queenstown businessman Sir Eion Edgar, for instance, thinks we should have more wealthy foreigners buying property here.

He thinks the law would "be detrimental to New Zealand's international reputation and greatly restrict overseas parties contributing to the benefit of New Zealand".

Leaving aside the cultural cringe underlying the first half of that statement, the second half is contentious at best.

As evidence Sir Eion cited four wealthy foreign property owners who had brought benefits to the country.

Four. I guess that's better than three.


Mutt Lange has spent more than $100 million on farming stations and gifted them to the nation for use by all New Zealanders. That would be all New Zealanders with the means to travel to and spend time at South Island stations.

Eiichi Ishii has spent hundreds of millions on Millbrook Resort at Arrowtown so that, in Sir Eion's words, "We now have a world-class golf and accommodation facility all New Zealanders can benefit from".

That would be all New Zealanders who can afford to go to Arrowtown to play golf.

Paul and Debbi Brainerd have poured millions into an eco-friendly camp ground at Glenorchy. Community projects such as the Winter Games, Queenstown Trails Trust and the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group have also benefited from foreign largesse. How lovely for them.

There are many differences between wealthy foreigners and other immigrants.

For a start, those in the latter group tend to live, work and pay tax here, not just buy some land on which to build a bolthole for the apocalypse while they spend most of their time in their home countries.

Refugees, in particular, are likely to be appreciative of the opportunity they have been offered and want to pay it back to the communities that have taken them in.

Is it fair to generalise about the super-wealthy? Has any billionaire ever stopped to worry about being fair?

According to a report on the website, the top quality shared by billionaires is "an insatiable desire for money and success".

How strange their lives must be with no possibility of satisfaction. No amount of money or our land will ever be enough.