Changes to the Overseas Investment Office rules need to protect Kiwis and their sovereign economic assets from the governance failures of farmers, says Cabinet Minister Shane Jones.

Wading into the debate over the sale of the historic Westland dairy cooperative to China, Jones said the OIO rules needed to be changed so dairy company Fonterra "does not go the way of Westland".

Westland is a distress sale. Its farmer-owners, convinced by their farmer directors, have voted to sell to China's Yili conglomerate, which also owns the Oceania dairy company in south Canterbury.

"Kiwis have got to ask ourselves how long

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