Two titans of niche agricultural markets in America and England are investing in New Zealand after getting approval from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).
American millionaires Margaret and Gary Hirshberg, who are from New Hampshire and in their early 60s, have been cleared to buy 69ha in Ngatimoti, near Motueka, to set up an organic sheep farm and an organic market garden. They also intend to do extensive native planting.
The sellers, Andrew Guy and Rowan and Sharon Kearns, got $4m for the property.
A British couple, Angus and Kathleen Wielkopolski from Yorkshire, have been granted consent to buy a 104ha dairy goat farm near Te Aroha from Corganix Ltd, owned by Jaime and Janet Cornelissen. The price remains secret.
The Yorkshire couple intend to bring in their Yorkshire dairy goat, a breed they pioneered, and export genetics from New Zealand.
The OIO decisions released last week say Gary Hirshberg will run workshops for organic farmers and mentor a local sheep cheese maker.
New Zealand would benefit from the Hirshberg’s specialist knowledge, skills and overseas networks, the OIO said.
Gary Hirshberg founded and previously led the organic yoghurt company Stonyfield Farm, which claims to be biggest seller of organic dairy products in the US with $US370 million in yearly sales.
The company was bought by the French giant Danone in 2014 and sold again recently for $US875 million to the French multi–national Lactalis.
The Wielkopolskis were the biggest producer of goats’ milk in the UK in 2010 and milked over 6000 goats from various properties around Yorkshire.
The couple said the key to their success was their close relationship to 40,000 loyal consumers, most of whom were allergic to cows’ milk.
The OIO said the unique characteristics of their new goat breed would help develop a more efficient method of dairy goat farming in New Zealand.
It expects the two couples will increase exports, provide jobs and introduce new technology.
By: MARTIN VAN BEYNEN