Prime Minister John Key says sacred Maori sites on two of 16 Crafar dairy farms were already part of the deal signed off by the Government with Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin.

North Island trusts Tiroa and Tehape want to buy two farms on both sides of State Highway 30 at Bennydale, south of Te Kuiti.

Minister of Maori Affairs, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples told TVNZ's Marae Investigates that Shanghai Pengxin will sell or give back two of the farms to Maori and respect the wahi tapu (scared sites) on the other farms.

Chairman of Tiroa and Tehapa Hardie Penie said the trusts had been in ongoing negotiations with Shanghai Pengxin and were part of the consortium led by Sir Michael Fay challenging the purchase in court.


The consortium is made up of farmers and iwi wanting to buy the Crafar farms and share them amongst themselves. Its bid of $171.5 million was rejected as being not high enough by receivers KordaMenta.

Shanghai Pengxin were the preferred bidder with the deal believed to be $210m and were approved the Government in April, but its bid to buy the 16 Crafar farms was being challenged in court.

Prime Minister John Key said on TVNZ's Breakfast programme today he was aware that part of the overall deal with Shanghai Pengxin was recognition of the sacred sites.

"Whether they are saying they will give the whole farm back or just that portion of the land back, I am not sure of that," he told Breakfast.

"I know that the Government has followed the right process, we don't believe there's reason for us to turn the deal down and that's been our position and I think we've appropriately and correctly applied the law," he said.

"Whether the courts overturn the decision, that's a matter for them."