Prime Minister John Key says there is no need to change foreign investment laws following the Crafar farms saga, and the government welcomes such investment if it leads to the building of new infrastructure such as milk processing plants.
However it would move to tighten the law if there was a wholesale run on New Zealand farmland by foreign buyers.
On Friday, Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin was given approval from the Overseas Investment Office and government ministers, for the second time, to purchase the 16 Crafar Farms. Pengxin is set to invest NZ$16 million upgrading the run-down properties, and is looking to process the milk produced on the farms in a New Zealand processing plant into higher-value dairy products like baby formula and cheese.
Speaking on TVNZ's Breakfast programme on Monday morning, Key said when the government had spoken to the Chinese in the past, it said it welcomed foreign investment in New Zealand.
"We say the same thing, by the way to the Americans and everyone else," Key said.
"My view with the Chinese has always been, if you want to come and buy every farm in New Zealand, we’re not interested thanks. [But] a few farms at the margins, sure," he said.
"I don’t think it’s a great thing if New Zealand sells off every farm in New Zealand, nor is there any intention to do that. And by the way, if there was a massive run on selling farmland in New Zealand, the government would do something about it. That hasn’t been the case.
“But if they come in and build buildings or processing plants, or create other opportunities, like the Japanese did 30 years ago...[then we welcome it]."
Following the Crafar farms saga, Key said he did not think the current foreign investment laws needed to be changed.
“When we came in [to government], we changed the law and tightened things up. So for all of the protest by the Labour Party, in fact they sold land at three times the rate we did when they were in government," he said.
"So I haven’t seen anything that would indicate there’s a run on land. There was a very specific example there: Everyone forgets about it, but when we became effectively the receiver of assets from South Canterbury Finance, they had about 45 farms. They were all sold to New Zealanders."