More farms being sold to overseas buyers for forestry conversion

File photo. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton
File photo. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton
The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of another six farms for conversion to forestry under the special forestry test.

Introduced in 2018 to encourage more tree planting - farming groups have raised alarm at the rate of farms being sold through the special forestry test.

The government is currently reviewing the test but sales are continuing.

Sales information just released by The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) includes Gisborne's Maunga-O-Rangi Station which went on the market last year after being owned by the same family for 30 years.

Kauri Forestry LP, a German and Swiss company, has bought the 1275-hectare sheep and beef breeding farm for an undisclosed amount.

The OIO decision said the buyer intended to convert about 920 hectares of the land to commercial forestry.

Another recent sale was Earlyhurst, a 944-hectare sheep and beef farm near Masterton, which sold to Austrian company Cerberus Vermögensverwaltung for more $15 million.

About 812 hectares of the farm will be planted into commercial forestry.

An advert for the farm posted by Bayleys last year said the farm was being offered for sale for only the second time in its history. "It has been faithfully farmed for well over 100 years, boasting a long and consistent fertiliser history," it said.

Nearly 550 hectares of farmland near Tuatapere in Southland known as Barclay Trust Farm has also recently sold under the special forestry test.

Ponga Silva Limited bought the beef and dairy grazing unit and plans to plant approximately 300 hectares of the farm into commercial forestry.

"Planting expected to occur in 2022 and 2023. The applicant plans to hold the land long term and continue sustainable forest management according to best forestry practices," the Overseas Investment Office decision said.

Also in Tuatapere, a 264-hectare farm on Happy Valley Road has been sold to Malaysian company Pine Plantations Private Limited for $2m - 160 hectares has been identified for commercial forestry.

A beef breeding and finishing block in Kaipara near Whangārei has been sold to Totara Forestry LP, a majority Germany owned company, and just over 500 hectares will be converted into commercial forestry.

Dutch company Ingka Investments Forest Assets NZ Limited has bought Stoneridge Farm, a sheep and beef breeding operation, which also has 41 hectares of existing forest.

The majority of the farm will be planted in rotation forest in the next two years with harvest taking place in 27 to 30 years.


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