Winston Peters' claim that the Huka Lodge luxury resort has
been sold to Chinese buyers has been met with a chorus of
Mr Peters made the statement during a state of the nation
address today, and suggested Prime Minister John Key had had
a hand in smoothing the process.
"While you're here media, let me tell you something, Huka
Lodge has just been sold to the Chinese ... and I want you to
go and ask John Key what role you had in this?
"Was it not true, Mr Key, that you assured them 'there won't
be a problem, we'll smooth it out for you'?"
A spokeswoman for Mr Key said the Prime Minister had no
decision-making power in the Overseas Investment Act process,
so any suggestion otherwise was "ill-informed".
When asked by media to explain his comments about Huka Lodge,
Mr Peters said he received the information from "an inside
source" in the real estate world.
"My informant says that John Key has given these people an
assurance that, 'don't worry about it, we'll smooth it
through the Overseas Investment Office'."
Overseas Investment Office (OIO) manager Annelies McClure
said the OIO had not received an application to purchase the
"Huka Lodge is currently owned by Worldwide Leisure Limited,
which, in turn, is owned by Dutch company Saraceno Holdings
Limited BV, which received OIO consent to purchase the land
in 2003," Ms McClure said.
"While this does not preclude the possibility that Worldwide
Leisure Limited has entered into a sale agreement for Huka
Lodge, the OIO has not received an application from any
Mr Peters later said on Twitter: "The OIO application for
Huka Lodge will take some time to be lodged and processed".
A statement released from the resort's general manager Kerry
Molloy said: "Huka Lodge, has been under the same ownership
now for 30 years, it has not been for sale, it is not for
sale and has not been sold to anybody. The statement made by
Mr Peters is not correct".
Huka Lodge director David McGregor also denied any knowledge
of the sale.
"I'm a director, I'm in touch with what goes on, but I'm
unaware of any negotiation or the fact that it may have been
sold," he said.
Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson said Winston
Peters' claim was "not true".
"The Overseas Investment Office has spoken to Huka Lodge
director and shareholder David McGregor, and he has confirmed
no sale has been made or is being considered," he said in a
"Huka Lodge was last sold in 2003, following Overseas
Investment Commission approval, when a Labour Government was
Founded in the 1920s, Huka Lodge is perhaps New Zealand's
most famous retreat. According to its website, famous guests
have included Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, Sir
Edmund Hillary and Queen Elizabeth II.
Huka Lodge is owned by Dutch-born businessman Alexander van
Heeren who, according to his website, divides his time
between Europe, the Pacific and southern Africa.
Mr Peters delivered his address on Auckland's North Shore
today to a captivated crowd of Grey Power members.
The NZ First leader stuck to familiar touchstones, reminding
his audience he had successfully brought in the Gold Card,
warning of the dangers of immigration and reminiscing about
New Zealand's golden years.
New Zealand has become a country with assets to be sold and
wages to be lowered, Mr Peters said.
Mass immigration had resulted in masses of the Grey Power
members' children and grandchildren flocking to Australia
where they were treated as second-class citizens, he said.
"We are not doing as well as we once did ... we want again to
be a proud nation."
The country had been run like a trading company for the past
30 years, with little leadership and even less vision, Mr
"We have become a business with deals to be done, assets to
be sold and the cost of labour to be reduced."
The current Government was hanging out work visas "like an
eight-armed octopus" to foreigners, while thousands of New
Zealanders couldn't get a job, Mr Peters said.
The next government needed to take a serious focus to
immigration, he concluded.
Mr Peters also refused to speculate on any "sordid
pre-election deals" NZ First might make. "Speaking bluntly
... we don't know how to play cards we haven't been dealt
Speaking to media following his address he backed up his
statement saying: "It puts you in a very weak negotiating
position, the guy that knows what you want has got you
covered, it's the oldest rule in the book".