A decision on whether Whanganui District Council owned forests can be sold to a foreign buyer should be known within a fortnight.

The proposed sale has been sitting with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) since an agreement of sale and purchase was signed with an unnamed buyer in December 2016.

The OIO has delayed the decision several times but it has now left the office and is awaiting ministerial approval which council expects in a week or so.

A report to the council's forestry committee said "while a decision was expected to be made within four months, staff changes, a new government and the development of new policy has taken considerable time.


"Over the last year the OIO has come back to the prospective purchasers with a huge array of questions and conditions, a good percentage requiring [council] input."

The forests - McNabs, Te Ara To Waka, Sicilies and Tauwhare - are jointly owned with the South Taranaki and Ruapehu district councils, although Whanganui is a majority owner.

The decision was first delayed in the middle of last year while the OIO awaited further information.

Then in October council said the proposed buyer had requested an extension of the conditional sale until February.

Earlier this year the OIO sought even more information about the influences and behaviours of the log market in the region.

The buyer will remain confidential until the transaction is approved.