Consent for Wairarapa farm to forest conversion

4 June 2019

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has granted consent to an Austrian investor to buy 1,727 hectares of Wairarapa farm land, most of which will be converted to forestry.

The new owner, Veronika Leeb-Goess-Saurau, will subdivide parts of the land, and she will sell three of the property’s houses and other flat land within the next three years.

The rest of the existing sheep and beef farm will be planted as a new commercial forest, starting this year, and will be harvested from 2045 to 2047. The 1,280-hectare forest will be known as Bernadette Forest.

New Zealand-owned Lone Star Farms Ltd is selling the Masterton land. It includes 20.5 hectares of native vegetation that is protected by a QEII covenant. 

Part of the bed of the Tauweru River is included, and this special land has been offered to the Crown, as required under the overseas investment regulations.

In 2016 the OIO approved Ms Leeb-Goess-Saurau to buy 381 hectares of Hawke’s Bay land, which is now known as Carlsberg Forest.

The OIO assessed the latest application under the new forestry pathway for sensitive land. This change was introduced, along with other new rules, on 22 October 2018 to streamline some types of investments. Under the new forestry test, the criteria include that the land must be used exclusively, or nearly exclusively, for forestry activities, not used for residential purposes, existing arrangements must be maintained or implemented, and harvested trees must be replanted.

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