Government signs off on Chinese water bottling expansion in Whakatane
By Sophie Boot
June 12 (BusinessDesk) - The government has granted a Chinese-owned company permission to expand a water bottling plant
Creswell NZ, which is wholly owned by Chinese bottled water supplier Nongfu Spring Co, applied to buy freehold and
leasehold interest in 6.2 hectares of land at Otakiri, near Whakatane. The land is classed as sensitive under the
Overseas Investment Act because it is more than 5 hectares of non-urban land and borders conservation land.
Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage and Associate Finance Minister David Clark have granted the application,
conditional on the company providing an additional 60 fulltime jobs within four years and getting the resource consents
it needs under the Resource Management Act, they said in a joint statement today. The company still needs water permits
and other resource consents from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Whakatane District Council before it can buy the
"The Overseas Investment Office recommended approval as Creswell NZ Ltd met the test to provide substantial and
identifiable benefits to New Zealand,” Clark said. "Specifically more jobs, exports, greater productivity and additional
capital investment for the country."
Creswell has said it will spend $42.5 million to upgrade the existing plant and establish two new bottling lines,
creating 32 jobs in the first two years and 60 once the plant is fully operational. The OIO can force Creswell NZ to
sell the land if it does not create the jobs, Sage said.
The government's bill to prevent foreigners from buying existing houses in New Zealand, the Overseas Investment
Amendment Bill, is currently being considered by a select committee, which is due to report by June 21 before it has its
second reading. Sage said that the Overseas Investment Act "will also be more widely reviewed this term.”