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New Zealand Sells The Farm

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Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

How is allowing Chinese investors to buy New Zealand land supposed to be sustainable?

With financial pressure being put on New Zealand(ers) to sell farmland to Chinese investors, many questions and fears are being raised that we are kissing our best assets goodbye, forever. Fears for this long-term loss are accompanied by the more immediate threat or concern that jobs will be filled by foreign workers, receiving minimum wages, which will drive down prices and negatively affect the traditional kiwi farming lifestyle. The kind of lifestyle that many generations of New Zealanders have grown up with, myself included, which has shaped our (pretty well-rounded and healthy) national identity and values for years. If I share Footrot Flats with my great-grandchildren, will they get it? And I'd love to hear what the Tangata Whenua have to say about this. 

New Zealand already supplies a unique product to the world that is highly regarded. Having grown up on a farm with a freezer (or two) full of premium meat, it pained me to spend a ridiculous US$40 (if not more) on a tiny, bony piece of New Zealand lamb, at a luxury Five Star Hotel & Restaurant Resort on the other side of the world. But you see, people do indeed indulge top dollar in not just our dairy exports, but also in the impeccable image and reputation our exports are associated with. Instead of working to refine and market our image of quality and exclusivity, why are we tampering with our image by adding so many variables that are out of our control? 

Even if I attempt to remove emotion and pride from my argument, I find the idea to be globally unsustainable. The model of carrying capacity for the earth indicates that birth rates naturally decrease and death rates naturally increase when a heavy population creates competition for resources, and associated problems cause disease and inadequate conditions for living. Therefore, in a world already suffering from the mismanagement of resources, if a nation cannot basically sustain its population by maintaining a realistic ratio of people to land, and through the necessary trade of exports and imports for supplies and capital, then how can buying more land ever be considered as anything more than a temporary, co-dependent fix for an escalating problem?

Although our memories of it are still fresh, the days of conquering an endless world, writing maps, and divvying up newly found spoils are over. We must learn to acknowledge the limitations of the world we live in: that there is only so much water, so much land, so much space. Some may imagine that future generations will reach out to conquer the moon, space, exploit new planets. But this is a cop out, exploration turned to in desperation. We already have a perfectly good planet, you could even call paradise. Sustainability for the earth begins nationally... or you might like to say, "at home." 


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