Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage and Associate Finance Minister David Clark have granted an application under the Overseas Investment Act 2005 for Cresswell NZ Ltd to purchase land to expand the existing Otakiri Springs water bottling plant near Whakatane.
The decision is conditional on the company providing an additional 60 fulltime jobs and getting the resource consents it needs under the Resource Management Act (RMA).
The Ministers have gone beyond the standard template to ensure the promised jobs eventuate by setting conditions around ongoing monitoring to keep the consent valid.
“We have granted consent for Creswell NZ Ltd based on the recommendations of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) and the decision making criteria in sections 16 and 17 of the Act,” Eugenie Sage said.
The consent means Creswell NZ Ltd can purchase a freehold and leasehold interest in approximately 6.2 ha of sensitive land at Otakiri, near Whakatane. The land is classed as sensitive under the Overseas Investment Act because it is more than 5 ha of non-urban land and adjoins land held for conservation purposes.
Creswell NZ Ltd is wholly owned by Nongfu Spring Co Limited, one of China’s bottled water suppliers.
“The OIO recommended approval as Creswell NZ Ltd met the test to provide substantial and identifiable benefits to New Zealand,” David Clark said.
“Specifically more jobs, exports, greater productivity and additional capital investment for the country.”
The company proposes to expand the existing water bottling plant and invest more than $42.5 million over four years to upgrade the plant and establish two new bottling lines. The expansion is expected to provide 32 jobs within two years and 60 fulltime jobs once the new plant is fully operational within four years.
“This is a substantial increase on the current eight jobs at the plant and offers employment opportunities for the Whakatane community and Bay of Plenty region,” David Clark said.
“If Creswell NZ Ltd does not create these jobs, the OIO can take enforcement action. This includes the possibility of requiring the company to sell the land. Budget 2018 provided an extra $7 million in new funding for the OIO to undertake compliance and enforcement work,” Eugenie Sage said.
Eugenie Sage said the overseas investment consent was also conditional on the company getting the water permits and other resource consents it needs under the RMA from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Whakatane District Council.
“If the company’s resource consent applications are not granted, including the consent to take additional groundwater, it will not be able to acquire the land.
“This Government is improving how New Zealand land is treated under the law. The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill currently before Parliament is intended to improve housing supply by banning foreign sales. The Overseas Investment Act will also be more widely reviewed this term.”