The Values at Stake in Screening Foreign Investment in New Zealand Land: A Legislative History in Three Acts

Posted: 2 Jul 2015

See all articles by Amokura Kawharu

Amokura Kawharu

University of Auckland - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 30, 2015

Abstract

The Overseas Investment Act 2005 regulates the entry of foreign investment into New Zealand by screening investment proposals that fall within the Act’s definitions of “significant business assets” and “sensitive land”. Calls for reform or repeal of the Act which are aimed at facilitating foreign investment into New Zealand (rather than limiting it) tend to be based on economic rationales. The risk of reform driven exclusively by economic rationales is that non-economic interests and values could be undermined. By the same token, if the regulatory objectives are not purely economic in nature, but encompass core national values, then overseas experience suggests that the Act will be highly resistant to pressure to liberalize. The issue then is that as part of any review, the relevant values need to be identified and addressed. Recent literature tends to either assume the existence of non-economic issues arising from foreign ownership in land, or questions their existence, but in both cases without investigating further. A close analysis of the legislative history and public consultation on the legislation demonstrates that the protection of cultural and heritage values is and has always been an important objective of screening foreign investment, and that specific policy objectives include the recognition of the importance of rural land to national identity.

Keywords: foreign investment screening, New Zealand

JEL Classification: A13

Suggested Citation

Kawharu, Amokura, The Values at Stake in Screening Foreign Investment in New Zealand Land: A Legislative History in Three Acts (June 30, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2625295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2625295

Amokura Kawharu (Contact Author)

University of Auckland - Faculty of Law ( email )

Private Bag 92019
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland, 1142
New Zealand

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