Wealthy foreigners want to invest 'billions' in New Zealand's post-COVID-19 economy - Rob Fyfe

Businessman Rob Fyfe says wealthy foreigners are pitching their post-COVID-19 economy ideas to him, which he believes are worth "billions" in investment. 

The former Air New Zealand CEO spoke at a business summit in Auckland on Wednesday amid fears the city faces a deepening crisis due to the pandemic.

While he wouldn't go into detail, he says there are people that "want to build golf courses and invest in tourism assets".

"I've got approaches from people who have the potential to invest billions."

But he says there's a "chokepoint" in the system since it's difficult getting people with money into New Zealand at the moment unless they're a citizen or permanent resident.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key used the summit to call for the ban on foreign buyers to come to an end to allow rich overseas foreigners to build homes here.

"If someone from the United States, who's currently looking at pictures from New Zealand about a COVID-free environment, says I want to build a $10 million beach house here, why wouldn't we want that? Because that is literally going to allow tens of hundreds of tradies to potentially have a job," he says.

"If we don't do that, we really run the risk that we lose an enormous number of jobs over the next year or so."

Todd Male, the owner of denim store Route 66 in Newmarket, says if more people lose jobs, it means more businesses miss out on making sales.

"In amongst those 50,000 people there are potential customers coming in here to buy a new pair of jeans," he says, referencing the number of Aucklanders who could lose their jobs once the wage subsidy stops next month.

About 70 percent of working Aucklanders are still living off the wage subsidy.

Male says he's one of the lucky shops in Newmarket that's still open.

"Business has been good, no hiding it," he says, but acknowledges the closed shops around him are a "sign of the times".