A Czech businessman who was given consent to buy about 40,000ha of land near Arthur’s Pass must live in New Zealand indefinitely under the terms of his application.
The decision released this week approved the sale of Mt White Station, a high-country sheep and beef farm which includes 39,337ha of Crown pastoral lease and 678ha of freehold land in Bealey.
Czech Republic-born businessman Lukas Travnicek is a New Zealand permanent resident, but his company Southern Ranges Ltd required Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval for the purchase because Travnicek returned temporarily to the Czech Republic in May last year.
This meant Travnicek was not currently, ordinarily resident in New Zealand and was considered an overseas person under the Overseas Investment Act.
The Commissioner of Crown Lands has also given consent to transfer Mt White Station’s Crown pastoral lease to Southern Ranges.
Public access to parts of Mt White Station would continue, said Land Information New Zealand deputy chief executive Crown property Jerome Sheppard.
The property includes almost 1000ha, known as Riversdale Flats, which was set aside for inclusion in a national park in 1901. This did not occur when the Arthur’s Park National Park was created in 1929, and the land was included in the Mt White pastoral lease in the early 1950s. Riversdale Flats has been leased and grazed as part of Mt White Station since the 1890s.
“Land Information New Zealand has been working with the Department of Conservation, and will meet Mr Travnicek’s representatives to begin discussions about Riversdale Flats,” Sheppard said.
“Mr Travnicek has indicated that he is keen to find a solution, and further meetings are planned to progress the discussions.”
Travnicek was granted a New Zealand permanent residency visa in November 2013, and his wife and children are New Zealand citizens.
He applied under the residency pathway of the Overseas Investment Act. Under this pathway, people must have the relevant visa and show they intend to live in New Zealand indefinitely. They are not required to show benefits to New Zealand, including walking access, so the OIO was not in a position to make access a condition of consent.
The OIO said in a statement it required Travnicek to return to New Zealand in just over 12 months and no longer be an overseas person within two years. If he was not able to meet these conditions, Mr Travnicek must dispose of the property.