14 April 2020

These are unprecedented times as New Zealand comes to grips with managing COVID-19 and a nationwide lockdown. No doubt this has impacted on your organisation as you work from home, while ensuring your families remain safe.

Business as usual at the Overseas Investment Office

These are unprecedented times as New Zealand comes to grips with managing COVID-19 and a nationwide lockdown. No doubt this has impacted on your organisation as you work from home, while ensuring your families remain safe.
 
Our team at the Overseas Investment Office is working remotely and continuing operations as normal. This includes accepting new, and progressing existing, applications.
 
We are also looking at our processes and practices to ensure they are fit for purpose. We want there to be minimal disruption to you - the people we work with - and to our core business.
 
Assessors are currently contacting investors and legal advisors to understand the impact COVID-19 might have on proposed investments. This information will help us understand what information we need to provide to ensure minimal disruption.
 
After Easter, we should have more detail on that in a special edition of PeriOIOdical. 
 
Please look after yourselves and keep in touch with us at oio@linz.govt.nz. We appreciate that these are changing times for investors, so do let us know if you or your client’s investment situation has changed, if there is going to be an application delay or if you require an application to be fast-tracked. We’ll do our best to accommodate your request.

Ngā mihi nui,

Vanessa Horne
Group Manager, Overseas Investment Office
Land Information New Zealand

 

This issue covers:

OIO approach to "good character" and "true and correct" statutory declarations

One Home to Live In pathway

Enforcement and education

Updates to application templates

New exemplar guidance - coming soon

February decision summaries

Media enquiries

 

OIO approach to "good character" and "true and correct" statutory declarations


Until further notice, the Overseas Investment Office will consider accepting unsworn signed statements in place of ‘good character’ and ‘true and correct’ statutory declarations in cases where it is not possible for an investor to provide properly executed statutory declarations due to COVID-19.
 
The Law Society has issued guidance for practitioners on taking remote declarations: https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/practice-resources/the-business-of-law/legal-practice/opinion-administration-of-oaths-and-declarations-in-circumstances-of-mandatory-self-isolation
 
Where it is not possible for an applicant to provide a duly executed ‘good character’ or ‘true and correct’ statutory declaration in the current circumstances, the OIO is willing to consider an application to waive the requirement to provide statutory declarations, and provide signed statements instead. This applies to both delegated and Ministerial applications.
 
Statutory declarations help the Overseas Investment Office ensure consent holders are suitable to invest and their investments deliver benefit to New Zealand. Our general practice has been not to issue decisions on applications until statutory declarations have been received, however continuing this practice may delay the determination of investment applications.
 
Applicants should advise their primary assessor of the circumstances preventing the provision of ‘good character’ and ‘true and correct’ statutory declarations and request a waiver. If a waiver is granted, we will accept statements signed by the persons who would usually make the relevant declarations. These may be sent to us as scanned copies.
 
For certain applications, on a case-by-case basis, we may ask applicants to accept a condition of consent requiring statutory declarations to be provided later. If this is the case, your primary assessor will discuss that with you.

One Home to Live In pathway


The One Home to Live In team is still operating as usual – we are currently processing applications and answering enquiries. Ten consents have been granted for the One Home to Live In pathway since New Zealand went into alert level 4.
 
There have been several enquiries about applicants being in breach of their conditions – either with not being able to move into the home in three months, or potentially not meeting the 183 days threshold of being in New Zealand. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown, we are taking a pragmatic approach to these individual situations.
 
The current worldwide contact and travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19 mean it may not be possible for some to provide a properly executed statutory declaration for their application. As the requirement for meeting the test is clearly outlined in the Act, we are unable to waive this for One Home to Live In applications.
We are recommending the Law Society guidance for practitioners on taking remote declarations: https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/practice-resources/the-business-of-law/legal-practice/opinion-administration-of-oaths-and-declarations-in-circumstances-of-mandatory-self-isolation
 
Please contact us on OIOEnquiriesAdvisors@linz.govt.nz if you or your clients have any concerns.

Enforcement and education


COVID-19 is expected to impact the future enforcement action taken by the Overseas Investment Office. Site visits are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 alert level four. The Office is looking at the strategic direction of how we respond to breaches and investigate as a result. In addition, a review of the Office’s strategic enforcement priorities is under way and an interim enforcement strategy is being developed.
 
The Office has recently had some successful site visits at Camp Glenorchy and Mt Difficulty Wines. Both applicants have invested significantly and at the site visits the Office staff met with the applicants to talk through those investments and their future plans.
 
While there, we took the opportunity to meet with 14 Queenstown lawyers on the 2018 changes to the Act, current issues of interest, and the upcoming proposed changes to the Act. Most of the questions from this meeting were on residential land.
 
The Office is not just out and about enforcing the Act – we are always interested in presenting to stakeholders. Once the COVID-19 alert level reduces, we would be very interested in presenting to stakeholders on the work of the Office, applying legislation and our regulatory approach.

Please email oio@linz.govt.nz for more information.

Updates to application templates


The Overseas Investment Office is in the process of refreshing the application templates. The templates were due for publication at the end of March 2020, but due to COVID-19, and the resulting re-prioritisation of work, the release will now be later. Please continue to use the existing templates on our website.

New exemplar guidance - coming soon

Exemplar application and investment plan documents will soon be added to the Overseas Investment Office’s section of the LINZ website. The exemplars are for applications made through the “benefit to New Zealand” and “significant business asset” pathways.

These exemplars have been created to assist applicants and their legal advisors in preparing applications, and are intended to supplement the existing technical informationon our website. For any questions and/or feedback, please contact oio@linz.govt.nz
 

February decision summaries

Last week, the Overseas Investment Office released decision summaries for:
 

Costco Wholesale New Zealand Limited (Sensitive land – benefit to New Zealand pathway)

Library Lane Development LP (Sensitive land – benefit to New Zealand pathway)

Synlait Milk Limited (Sensitive land – benefit to New Zealand pathway)

Synlait Milk Limited (Significant business assets)

Drylandcarbon One Limited Partnership (Sensitive land – special forestry test)

Greenheart Papakorakora Forest NZ Limited (Sensitive land – special forestry test)

Remember that if you would like to receive the latest decision summaries for applications, please sign up

Media enquiries


Email: media@linz.govt.nz or phone: 027 566 5251

Media enquiries

Email: media@linz.govt.nz or phone: 027 566 5251