May 16, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Ngai Tahu sells 1345-hectare station to Americans

4 min read

Kia ora whanau. Te Waahi o Facebook lit up with astonishment today as it was revealed that Ngai Tahu Property sold its 1345-hectare Kaikoura station Rakanui to a Californian couple for $7.5 million.

Ngai Tahu Property general manager Tony Sewell is quoted as saying the company had decided to sell the land because it was moving out of large-scale lifestyle developments.

The following korero comes from The Marlborough Express (LJANA SLIGO AND FAIRFAX)

Margaret Elisabeth Hyde, a children’s author, and her energy trader husband, Chris Gough, have also bought the neighbouring 438ha Kahutara Downs from a Christchurch syndicate for $3.48 million.

The syndicate is made up of David and Jacqueline Pritchard, Brian Fitzgerald Interests, Phillip Burmester, David Smallbone and Evan More.

The stations are 10 kilometres south of Kaikoura, and sit above State Highway 1 and the main trunk railway line; the Kahutara River runs through Rakanui.

The couple want to merge the two properties, improve the farming operations, plant a sustainable forest and implement an ecological restoration programme.

Their application to buy the properties was approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) late last year.

Ngai Tahi Property originally planned to turn Rakanui into a residential farm park containing 64 sections of 0.5ha each.

A hearing on the proposal, which was opposed, was held in 2007, and approval was granted.

Speaking from the couple’s Santa Monica home last night, Mr Gough said they had been attracted to Kaikoura as it was “a lot like where we live just less people”. His business brought him to Southeast Asia and Australasia often.

“The primary focus is to regenerate indigenous bush and to participate in your carbon scheme. We want to restore the land to natural growth.”

He said the farm was their first purchase in New Zealand, and they had no immediate plans to move here.

Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray said the sale of Rakanui was a good thing for the community, the land and the economy.

“It’s the best possible use for that land. The money that has been achieved is way beyond farming values.

“These people are looking at the best use for that land. In reality it has never been an economically sustainable farm, it has only been sustainable when subsidies were available,” he said.

He understood the couple planned to restore the land’s natural values while pastoral farming the parts that are productive.

“Other people see different values, the pristine environment and Kaikoura as a place to be.”

Mr Gray said the couple would bring money into New Zealand and create employment as they planned to fence, plant and develop the land.

Rural property prices would not be hugely affected by the sale, he said.

“It’s seen as an iconic property, not as a rural farm. It’s what we call a `one-off’ but it is very encouraging for the area.”

Ngai Tahu Property general manager Tony Sewell said the company had decided to sell the land because it was moving out of large-scale lifestyle developments.

“It’s not been a success, so we will put the money into the things we do best.”

He said the land was bought in 2006 and the company had received a price it was “pretty happy” with.

Peketa resident Richard Hailes, who opposed the Ngai Tahu proposal, said he was pleased the couple did not plan a residential development on the land.

“Good on them, but they will have their hands full,” said Mr Hailes.

“This is tough country and in a big weather event, it is a moveable thing,” he said.

He applauded the couple’s environmental principles.

Ms Hyde and her family founded the Hyde Family Foundation, which focuses on education reform and creating healthy neighbourhoods.

Concerns from Maori were immediate.

Lawyer Annette Sykes had this to say:

“Call me old fashioned but I grew up beleiving that our lands was the life force of our futures. I was brought up on stories of where lands were sold by necessity to pay rates or Pakeha bills at the store but never to sell land for a profit…. Leasing was the mantra of our childhood and holding on to land was what bound the family together. I am struggling with this at a time where I argue around the fact land is a taonga and when I see things like this occurring wonder if the process of commodification has so undermined our values that we will no longer be able to call ourselves tangata whenua but tangata… only Process of assimiliation, disconnection, colonisation complete…”

Here were a range of other comments:

That’s disgusting! Hope Ngai Tahu Property enjoy their “Blankets and Muskets” because in the long run that’s all that precious 7.5million is worth!

Personally i don’t think its ever alright to sell Maoriland. To pay the bills or for profit!

Chur neat alright get them a mean cars and a mean feeds, bling out the crib, greenstone rims, twirly wirlys on everyones arms!! = MUD

Another thing that really stinks too about this Annette, is that they only got 7.5 million bucks for it. Shit, a block of land at Manaia on the Coromandel of five hundred acres went for over 10 million and that was through a private sale. What accountability does Ngai Tahu have to its people, they’ve been severely ripped off. So much for looking after the tribes future – Yeah right!

So, though this was considered a private sale, the implications for Maori across the country seem to suggest that it was not a good move. What do you think? Should Maori corporations be able to sell Maori land? Please post your thoughts below.

3 thoughts on “Ngai Tahu sells 1345-hectare station to Americans

  1. Billionaire Facebook Investor Peter Thiel Pours Money Into His "Utopia," New Zealand

    Peter Thiel, famous for making billions off Facebok, tells us he's finally found "utopia" – New Zealand.

    Thiel has been investing heavily in the country.

    He's already made two noteworthy venture investments there in the space of a few months. In October 2010, he invested $3 million in online accounting firm Xero, which is based (and publicly traded) in New Zealand. Then he invested $4 million in Pacific Fiber, an ambitious company that is building a fiber-optic cable from Australia to New Zealand to the US and is raising $300-400 million more to do so.

    These investments aren't just one-offs. Thiel has set up a local venture firm called Valar Ventures. Valar Ventures LP was registered in New Zealand in July 2009, more than a year before Thiel's first known New Zealand investment, and is managed by Valar Capital Management LLC, based in San Francisco, according to official records. Valar Ventures LP's offices are at prominent New Zealand law firm Bell Gully, which suggests it doesn't have full time staff yet. Peter Thiel founded two other companies in New Zealand: Second Star Limited, where he is sole shareholder, and Silverarc Advisors.

    The people associated with these New Zealand companies, all of them close associates of Thiel at his hedge fund Clarium Capital, show how serious Thiel is about New Zealand. Valar Capital Management is managed by Nathan Linn, VP of Finance at Clarium. On the boards of Thiel's New Zealand companies are Matt Danzeisen, Principal at Clarium, James Fitzgerald, COO and General Counsel at Clarium, and Andrew McCormack, VP Corporate Development at Clarium and previously Thiel's assistant at PayPal.

    Thiel is nothing if not an ambitious, long-term thinker, so what's the big picture here? What could the famously contrarian investor possibly see in a country of 4 million people whose economy is mostly based on agriculture and tourism?

    Here's a thought: maybe Peter Thiel wants to turn New Zealand into the next Silicon Valley. Or maybe even the libertarian utopia of his dreams.

    Investing in a huge undersea fiber optic cable is typically a safe, low-return investment, which isn't the kind of investments Thiel goes after. But bringing high speed internet into New Zealand would be a first step to turning the country into a new Silicon Valley.

    The name of Thiel's firm Valar Ventures comes from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings universe. Thiel is a huge Tolkien fan and the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand. In Tolkien's legendarium, the Valar are deities who created the world of Middle-Earth (portrayed by New Zealand in the movies) and then descended on it to help nurture its infancy and development.

    Reached about this idea, Thiel said: “New Zealand is already utopia. But Silicon Valley and New Zealand can learn a lot from each other, and we want to help make that happen.” So Thiel is clearly in it for the long run.

    Thiel is very libertarian, and New Zealand already has some of the most free-market policies in the world. Thiel is also a donor to the Seasteading Institute, a foundation that wants to create libertarian self-sustaining colonies out at sea. A popular libertarian cause is the "Free State Project" to get tens of thousands of libertarians to emigrate to New Hampshire and take over the government democratically to reshape the state according to libertarian ideals.

    Thiel has been frustrated at US policies and generally been bearish on the US economy. He believes that the world needs a new wave of radical innovation in fields like artificial intelligence and robotics to escape impending disaster and has seemed increasingly skeptical that the US, the world leader in innovation, can deliver that.

    So what are Thiel's chances of turning New Zealand in a new tech mecca?

    We spoke with a tech entrepreneur who lived in New Zealand who said that the country has a lot of potential as a tech hub. When asked about the culture, the person said: "They're a brand new country. 160 years old. They have no fear of innovation or failure." They also mentioned the country's relaxed, laid back atmosphere. Sounds a lot like Silicon Valley to us.

    Less Californian: the government is very efficient and business-friendly. The immigration services will actually put a foreign entrepreneur in touch with potential investors — not something you can exactly say of the US's byzantine immigration system, or most other countries' for that matter. Utopia indeed.

    New Zealand already has a handful of world-beating startups like, the world's top wine search engine, which is based in Auckland. A quick survey of online jobs listings in New Zealand shows great demand for developers. So there's definitely the inklings of something.

    There's a precedent in Israel, also a young, small, gorgeous "island" nation with an immigrant population that kick-started one of the world's most vibrant tech industries.

    After the financial crisis, the New Zealand government unveiled plans to turn New Zealand into an offshore financial hub: because of its location, the New Zealand markets are the first to open each day, which could give an edge to firms located there. This is something that could come in handy to Thiel's hedge fund. Xero, the company Thiel invested in, was founded in 2006 and went public in 2007, so their stock market seems much less broken than the US's.

    Tech, high finance, small government — when you think about it, it makes perfect sense for Thiel. As big fans of rugby and startups, we think Thiel's involvment in New Zealand is an awesome story. We can't wait to see how it develops.

    Read more:

  2. Teenaa koutou katoa

    What I find most disturbing about this tale is that Ngai Tahu were intenfing to subdivide the whenua for urban development, that is to turn the whenua into lifestyle properties – plans vigorously opposed by locals with environment in mind. They have since sold the whenua to an American couple who intend to nurture the land back into indigenous flora and fauna.

    As Taangata Whenua, Ngai Tahu should have taken that task on as a responsibility and commitment. I applaud the American couple for taking on a role that Ngai Tahu have clearly abdicated in pursuit of their new god – money.

  3. Well if you read the article it was crap land to start with – They can use the money to buy land suitable for chiefs. Tangata whenua doesnt they have to make do with the leftovers -Annette is riding a high horse.

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