Find out about when the benefit to New Zealand test applies and the different benefits

The benefit to New Zealand test is applied to transactions involving sensitive land (that do not fall within another pathway) or fishing quota. It establishes a framework for determining whether the investment will be beneficial by assessing applications against 7 factors.

Identifying sensitive land

Download overview of Benefit to New Zealand test (PDF 271KB)

How is the benefit test assessed?

The benefit test is met where:

  • the overseas investment will, or is likely to, benefit New Zealand (or any part of it or group of New Zealanders), and
  • if the relevant land is, or includes, residential land, the relevant Ministers are satisfied that the conditions imposed on the consent will be, or are likely to be, met.

Whether an investment is likely to benefit to New Zealand is assessed against seven broad factors.

When assessing the benefits, relevant decision makers will:

  • consider all the factors to decide which are relevant to the investment and their relative importance
  • compare the likely benefits of the investment to the current state
  • assess whether the likely benefits of the investment are proportionate to the sensitivity of the land and the nature of the transaction.

Each application is assessed on its own facts in the context of the proposed overseas investment.

What are the benefit factors?

There are seven factors outlined in section 17 of the Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2021 that an investment will be assessed against.

Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2021, section 17

1. Economic benefit

Will the investment result in, or is it likely to result in, economic benefits for New Zealand? For example:

  • the creation or retention of jobs
  • the introduction of technology or business skills
  • increased productivity
  • increased export receipts
  • increased processing of primary products
  • a reduced risk of illiquid assets.

2. Environmental benefit 

Will the investment result in, or is it likely to result in, benefits to the natural environment? For example:

  • protection of indigenous flora and fauna
  • improved water quality
  • erosion control.

3. Public access       

Will the investment result in, or is it likely to result in, continued or enhanced access by the public within or over the sensitive land, or the features giving rise to the sensitivity? For example, access for the purposes of:

  • recreation
  • undertaking stewardship of, or exercising kaitiakitanga in relation to, historic heritage or the natural environment.

See the definition of kaitiakitanga

4. Protection of historic heritage

Will the investment result in, or is it likely to result in, continued or enhanced protection of historic heritage in or on the relevant land? For example:

  • agreement to execute a heritage covenant, or comply with existing covenants
  • agreement to support entry to wāhi tūpuna, wāhi tapu, or wāhi tapu areas on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero
  • taking other actions under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 to recognise or protect heritage values
  • agreement to land being set apart as a Māori reservation.

See the definitions of wāhi tupuna and wāhi tapu

New Zealand Heritage List / Rārangi Kōrero

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014

5. Advancing government policy

Will the investment, or is it likely to, give effect to or advance a significant government policy?

6. Oversight or participation by New Zealanders

Will the investment involve, or is it likely to involve, oversight of, or participation in, the overseas investment by New Zealanders?

7. Consequential benefit

Will the investment result in, or is it likely to result in, other consequential benefits to New Zealand? For example:

  • benefits that are likely to arise from the investment that do not fit within one of the other factors.

Farm land

If the sensitive land you intend to purchase is, or includes, farm land exceeding five hectares, the Farm land benefit test will usually apply.

The Farm land benefit test requires that the Economic benefits and Oversight or participation by New Zealanders factors be given high relative importance. You must also establish a substantial benefit to New Zealand in relation to one or more of those factors.

Read more about the Farm land benefit test

Fishing quota

If you are applying to acquire fishing quota the benefit to New Zealand test applies. All factors are applicable apart from: Public access and Protection of historic heritage. Section 57H of the Fisheries Act 1996 gives specific examples of benefits that may arise under each factor for fishing quota applications.

Fisheries Act 1996 s57H

Read more about Investing in fishing quota

Disbenefit factors

Water bottling or bulk water extraction

If the investment involves water bottling or bulk water extraction for human consumption, an additional factor is whether the overseas investment will have, or is likely to have, a negative impact on water quality or sustainability.

  • This factor is relevant to all investments involving the extraction of water for bottling, or other extraction of water in bulk for human consumption.
  • Any negative impact on water quality or sustainability will be deducted from the overall benefit of the investment to New Zealand.
  • Where possible, provide expert reports evaluating the likely impacts of the investment on water quality or sustainability.
Last Updated: 26 November 2021