Whose tree is it? Whose farm is it?

Whose tree is it? Whose farm is it?

The announcement of the sale of Carter Holt Harvey’s pulp and paper and packaging businesses to Japanese interests, consolidates New Zealand’s forestry interests into foreign ownership.

Over 70% of plantation forests are already owned by overseas interests and now all the major forest products processors are foreign owned.

Successive governments have succeeded in a sell-off of New Zealand’s trees and forest products businesses and should be deeply ashamed.

An urgent change in overseas ownership policy must happen before all primary production is gone to overseas interests. Consistently agricultural land and processing is also going to overseas interests, from dairy, hill country and even apple orchards.

In the 2014 International Year for Family Farming an urgent rethink about overseas ownership of land and processing must happen or family farming and forestry will be history as New Zealanders increasingly slide further towards a peasant-hood controlled by corporates.

18 Comments Posted

  1. The overseas banks “own” about half of our rural land.
    Possibly somewhat similar for residential properties.

    A NZ Govt scheme for house loans at low rates for 1st family homes and a proper tax structure for commercial landlord rentier purchases, could well knock prices down a bit whilst housing families.

  2. Those of us still waiting to have our houses repaired or rebuilt after the Christchurch Earthquakes have suddenly lost some of our enthusiasm for investing in bricks and mortar…


  3. Right… back to the trenches.


    This meme of compete-or-die in the Muldoon-to-Roger-Douglas aftermath, has some serious problems. The market isn’t free, the competition isn’t on anything like a level field and the penalties for New Zealand are starting to really hurt. We ARE too small a market too far from other markets to do “everything” and be able to compete at everything.

    The other meme, whose rejection led us here, was for us to be a closed and very inefficient society with a lot of artificially induced inefficiencies and very little real vertical integration, run by-and-large, for the unions of the time.

    I am going to ask if this is a fair characterization, because I wasn’t here and I am just working with the bits and pieces I’ve absorbed from being here and communicating and listening. I will go on however, because there are other memes, completely untried here.

    Industrial might is a bridge too far, yet we are in need of SOME industries that aren’t about making milk powder, exporting logs or digging stuff out of the ground.

    Which means, given our distance from everything AND our market size, that we have to actively encourage some sectors where we are almost able to make it work. We used to manufacture whiteware here, mostly we don’t any more, we have Korean refrigerators and Chinese furniture, and it just! doesn’t! make! sense!

    The alternate path that nobody is able to consider (because it is just TOO different) may yet be considered when the economic collapse returns. It starts with a money that is issued by the government, not by banks. A money backed by our work done (our production and industry and renewable power generation) not by credit. A money that loses value if it is not used, subject to demurrage. Loans that have no interest associated with them.

    A conversion process for foreign “currency” that actually involves the movement of something that backs those foreign dollars. A CO2 tax that applies to everything produced including stuff produced overseas and a ban on foreign ownership. We run a “Debt Jubilee” per Steve Keen’s notional method of erasing the problem and starting over. A land tax, some more higher income tax brackets, a reduction in GST. Some specific research-grade government funded “industry-starters”. A commitment from government to actually buy NZ made products, pay the premium and retain the skills.

    If done all at once, it’d put a lot of stress on all of us, cause the foreign goods that were suddenly more expensive wouldn’t have replacements here for months and years. House prices would fall. A lot. Easing into it however, leaves a significant risk of getting stuck with parts not done.

  4. This is one stacked deck. The property IS far too high… but it is a function of a bunch of moves made over 20 years now, that favoured foreign investment, private over public and compete-or-die for businesses… which chose to leave rather than die because the competition is rigged.

    The meme we use now is no government support of anything, government doesn’t have a role in “shaping” the economy of NZ, that is the province of the “free” market and we have to play to our strengths and let foreigners buy whatever the hell they want. We have more cows and sheep than people, and if you count the sheeple properly the ratio is even worse. So we have two industries. Real-Estate-Investment/Banking and Farming. Most people don’t own farms, and anyone not in one of those two endeavors is basically a loser, working FAR harder to just break even than they should have to. The money to own real-estate is borrowed from overseas. Which is where we pay out the interest on all that debt from the overpriced houses. More later… hungry…

  5. Investment markets have miles to go before they have any credibility for the mum and dad investor.

    Indeed. Mums and dads should put their money in a savings account in the bank. And if they couldn’t make money off property, that’s just what they would do.

    Property prices are far too high in New Zealand, and the best thing that could happen is that they dropped by a huge percentage overnight. Rinse and repeat until the median house price is 3.5 x the median household income.

  6. dbuckley,

    The real problem is that the investment returns from bricks and mortar are far too high.

    No, the real problem is the lack of performance from the financial investment markets and the NZX board.

    And a Labour/Greens government wants to put more of YOUR money into KiwiSaver to invest where?

    You really trust your KiwiSaver investors? Good luck.

    I would rather buy bricks and mortar. But them I’m old and seen too many equitcorp, goldcorp, chase, SCF, sovereign, bridgecorp, etc., etc., etc. to trust a living soul making “money” on my behalf whilst loading fees and dodgy (that word again) accounting practices on top of the returns gained.

    Investment markets have miles to go before they have any credibility for the mum and dad investor.

  7. What would you choose, invest in residential/commercial bricks or trust your savings to an “investment” company?

    The real problem is that the investment returns from bricks and mortar are far too high. Why would anyone invest in something inherently risky like an investment product when the returns from property are so high?

  8. MikeM,

    I feel the biggest problem for NZL investors is the slack oversight of regulators (both NZX and State) to allow finance and listed companies to run off with the investors money through the mis-mangement of investors funds.

    What would you choose, invest in residential/commercial bricks and mortar or trust your savings to an “investment” company?

    You could “play” in the ASX or NZX markets directly but those are skewed to institutional investors, not to mum and dads individually.

    Overhaul the regulatory system (both state and private) with some meaningful rules and teeth, you may get investment rolling again.

  9. Assuming this is happening, what are the main drivers behind kiwis not buying these assets themselves?

    Is it because they don’t have as much cash as overseas interests?

    Is it because NZ investors are so hung up on investing in the residential property market, either because they see it as simpler to understand or because it’s skewed in the tax system?

    Is it because overseas buyers have interests, which kiwis don’t necessarily have, other than purely dividends for shareholders? (Example – that fear, justified or not, that Chinese investors are out to pull NZ-grown food from Chinese-owned farms direct into China instead of sell it on the open market, thereby reducing the amount of locally-grown food available for kiwis.)

    Is it because there are lower barriers to entry for investing in NZ compared with every other country? (By itself this might not be bad, depending on the details.)

  10. Not to abuse the topic really. Do we have any sort of tally of foreign ownership in each sector? Farms, Extraction Industries, Manufacturing, Housing, Commercial Property, Banking. This selling off of the country is wrong-headed, and one of the ways in which we mollify Winston and make an actual alliance possible is to make sure that we emphasize OUR opposition to the sell-off of the country as a whole.

  11. What is the LD50 for each of these synthetic “products, and then what is the LD50 for the real thing? One could ask why the medicinal usage which has the potential for extremely inexpensive pain relief, is so difficult for the Nationalistas to grasp too. Except one could ask the exact same question of the heavy Labourites.

    Getting people to face reality in this country seems to be like getting vampires to look at their faces in the mirror (how does a vampire shave?)

  12. Where on Frogblog can random but interesting comments go?
    Bill English has abandoned Clutha/Southland and his replacement is a tobacco industry lobbyist.
    The Southland Times editorial is a good one:
    OPINION: The staff of legal high shops up and down the country might suddenly find themselves contemplating a change of career. Can we suggest they consider trying for a National Party candidacy somewhere?
    It worked for Todd Barclay.
    Hard on the news that all legal highs will be off the shelves in a couple of weeks, what with them being so harmful and everything, the Nats have chosen for one of their safest seats, Clutha-Southland, a man whose job it was to represent the interests of the tobacco industry.
    The one that kills about 5000 of us each year.
    Not that Barclay’s employer, Philip Morris, is denying any more that tobacco is a dangerous product. It now openly acknowledges as much.
    The thing is, this oh-so-slowly dawning self-awareness hasn’t stopped the company defending, as best it can, its right to keep making money from the stuff anyway.
    Because, after all, it’s legal.
    Can we at least muster a sharp intake of breath, perhaps followed by a wheezy cough, at the audacity of this candidacy selection?
    To be fair, Barclay has come and gone from Philip Morris in short order. He had his tobacco job for eight months and says he joined the company to learn about corporate politics. In fact, he says he doesn’t condone smoking. (Small point: if you don’t condone something you really shouldn’t make money in its service.)
    There are things that an eager-to-learn young man should want to know about the tobacco industry even before he gets into it. And one of those, surely, would be the legitimacy of that whole “millions of dead people” kerfuffle. Was he really untroubled by that? Does he know something reassuring the rest of us don’t?
    Before this, Barclay was a Beehive insider. A 24-year-old who grew up in the south, he has worked for Cabinet ministers Bill English, Gerry Brownlee and Hekia Parata. Make what you will that after those three Big Tobacco seemed an agreeable next step.
    The extent to which his electorate will be willing to set aside this poisonous background remains to be seen. It’s up to Clutha-Southland voters to determine what significance, if any, to afford the fact that Barclay chose that career move, however temporarily. But it must be said that for a man barely in his mid-20s, he has a past to live down.
    In the meantime that hoary old line that a gumboot could get elected in Clutha-Southland if it was a National gumboot should be revisited on the basis that a gumboot would have a more benign public safety record.
    As for Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne’s announcement that, come to think of it, by golly it would be better if all legal highs were taken off the shelves and returned only once their safety was proven — that’s a case of better late than never. But not nearly as good as getting it right the first time.
    The grace period that had allowed 41 legal highs to keep being sold before the new testing regime was in place was far too long and intense public unhappiness resulted.
    Dunne’s insistence that had his hand not been forced by Opposition pressure the law change would still have gone ahead, but without warning and therefore without stockpiling, may be true. But the Opposition can hardly be blamed for preparing its own policy to do something the public wanted but the Government had not displayed any interest in doing.
    And something, we might and, that it had previously portrayed as pretty much impossible. Turns out where there’s a will, there’s a way.
    – © Fairfax NZ News

  13. Steffan has got it right. Many countries (I´ve just looked into farms in Poland) require a 50% ownership from a national citizen. Seems a fair balance.

    zedd: hemp on hill country isn´t the go; issues with tillage and erosion. Factors and logistic systems are already tuned to pine. Hemp may have a place, perhap in rotation maize; bio-gas together with dairy effluent processing…

  14. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we have a poorer health and safety record in the forestry and paper industry these days??
    Whatever happened to all those H & S in the workplace measures that were legislated in a number of years back…a big shakeup then, but enforcement seems to have diminished at an alarming rate in recent times.

    Why don’t we revisit the flax linen industry. We’ve got heaps of raw material already growing along those expensive motorways. I’m not kidding either.

  15. We the NZ people lost the Kaingaroa giant planted by Govt giving employment to NZers. Value today is much less than the offshore bankers here show as annual profit after their creative accounting and off shore tax havens are done.

    Capitalism at work.

    Ineffective Govts not taking hold of the purse strings.

    Bullied by business NZ and their media

    Controlled by Bankers based off shore.

    Until NZ effectively takes the controlling power to create money out of private hands then Govt debt created by business will keep NZ in debt, giving an excuse for selling of on NZ owned assets. Little build up of capital will be held even in private NZ hands.

    There are many ways to address this but here is a simple one.


    or a deeper local discussion with several solutions offered.


    I appreciate that the Greens are moving ideas toward greater sovereignty in NZ affairs and that this is creating a strong reaction against them by the plunderers of our public purse.

    We should not give in but educate the public to ride with those who on their side.

  16. Why do our politicians think it is acceptable to allow our property to be taken over by foreigners? Why are they so disloyal to us? Our concern has nothing to do with xenophobia and a lot to do with retaining ownership and control of the means for our making a living. This Chicago school economic system we struggle under (Rogernomics and its descendants) is designed to benefit only foreign corporates and not for the good of our country.

  17. Starting to sound like we are all ‘strangers in a strange-land’ ?

    maybe its time to look at hemp farming (paper, biofuels etc), as a replacement for all those trees ??

    kia ora

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