East Coast community say offshore land sale would spell disaster

Source: 1News

Locals say an offshore sale of two massive East Coast sheep and beef farms would spell disaster for the region.

If approved by the Overseas Investment Office, the deal would see 6000 hectares of productive farmland on the Huiarua and Matanui stations converted into pine forestry.

Local councillor Kerry Warsnop says the move would kill the isolated community.

"The overreaching impacts of losing farms of this scale are far broader and far deeper."

Locals say an offshore sale of two massive East Coast sheep and beef farms would kill the isolated community.

"What's really alarming, especially for a region like ours where on average we do have bigger farms it sends the message that the flood gates are kinda open."

The land is currently a working sheep and beef farm with eight full-time employees and provides essential work to local contractors.

It also has a school on site.

"We love this school it's one of a kind," says local mum and station resident Claire Bayliss.

"It means so much to so many people. It's hard to think that for a profit people want to put it in pine trees.

The land is currently a working sheep and beef farm, it also has a school on site.

"It's been really stressful on the community thinking another farm is disappearing."

The region is no stranger to forestry conversion - but local farmer Henry Gaddum says it hasn’t always had the best environmental and community impact.

"We are not against planting trees. We can see we need to plant a lot more trees nationwide but at the moment we have got it wrong.

"It's pretty devastating that as a country we have got to this point most productive land is being sold off to foreign interests."

He says converting the land to forestry makes no sense, both economically and environmentally.

“It’s an awesome bit of dirt it’s some of the most productive you’ll find on the East Coast or even New Zealand.

"It's fairly sad that it's got this far and it's been allowed to reach this mark... these farms are pretty much the hub of this community."

Eight thousand people have signed a petition to stop the sale.

"This can be stopped by the minister involved, they have the power to call the sale in. We can't figure out how it's got this far," says Gaddum.

The signatures are now in the hands of East Coast MP, Kiri Allan.