Foreign land grabs?

Last year it was big news when Canadian singer Shania Twain was said to be planning to buy a big plot of land in the South Island. Recently it was reported in the (19 September 2004 issue) New Zealand Herald that she has been given approval by the New Zealand government to purchase 27,000 hectares of land in Wanaka for an estimated value NZD 21.4 million.

There is no land ownership restriction in New Zealand. Almost anyone who has money like Shania can buy Aotearoa real and estate. Unlike the Philippines non-Filipinos cannot in theory buy any piece of land and the best that they can do is buy a renewable 50 year lease.

The controversy in this sale and similar transaction is that some politicians and some “cause oriented” groups are calling such sale to “foreigners” as a land grab. The say that most prime New Zealand land is now owned by non-New Zealanders may not give enough public access which poses a threat to kiwis. Detractors also claim that overseas landowners are just making the country a playground.

I think any sale of land is beneficial if they create jobs and makes it more productive than its pre-sale condition besides providing needed public access.

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