This bill amends the process of consent for an overseas person purchasing land adjacent to the sea, any river or lake by requiring consideration to be given to issues of public access.
The bill arises from increased overseas ownership of pristine areas of New Zealand, particularly along the coast. Overseas owners often have a different attitude to public access than the previous owners (usually farmers) with some wanting to create private rivers, beaches, or lakes by restricting access. This is contrary to the New Zealand way of life.
The issues of access must be balanced against the important principle of private property rights. If a
“Queen's Chain” in the form of an esplanade reserve is required for public purposes, the bill proposes that compensation be paid from the Reserves Fund.
The process set up in the bill is that the Overseas Investment Commission, when considering an application for sale of an area of land to an overseas person that includes riparian land, may after consulting with the territorial authority, require the area be set aside as an esplanade reserve.
The mechanism proposed is similar to that used when a subdivision occurs and an esplanade reserve is required under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). An important difference in this bill, as compared to the RMA, is that compensation would be paid as determined by an independent valuation process.