Creating opportunities for kiwi walkers from foreign land sales
One of the Commission’s interesting jobs is to look at applications by overseas investors to buy sensitive land. Our role is to consider if there are any access opportunities for New Zealanders that should become part of the conditions of sale.
The Walking Access Act 2008 requires the Commission to establish and improve walking access (or horse riding, hunting or mountain biking access).
So, each time a foreign investor wants to buy sensitive land the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) recognises this role by seeking the Commission’s advice on public access. The Commission proposes to the OIO conditions for overseas investors that will benefit New Zealand communities.
Normally, the OIO and the purchaser seek the Commission’s advice before the sale goes ahead so we can sort out any potential issues early.
The Commission will identify if any new tracks or trails will help people access the outdoors. For instance, pathways to get to lakes and rivers, links to existing tracks or trails on adjacent land, or recreation opportunities for the local community.
If the OIO agrees then building this new public access track will become a precondition of selling the land.
Normally we sort this out before the sale concludes. But occasionally things do not work out so smoothly, and we’ve been in the news recently about one of those cases, where proposed new public access from the Hong-Kong based Eric Chun Yu Wong’s purchase of Kawakawa Station in the Wairarapa is still awaiting resolution after several years.
Throughout this process, we consistently advocate for new, accessible trails and tracks for New Zealanders and visitors. We strongly believe that with quality public access to the outdoors, everybody wins.