Trade officials invited Chinese water-bottling company

It's been revealed Government officials invited a Chinese water-bottling company to set up in New Zealand, despite public unease.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) courted Nongfu Spring in 2015, according to documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA) to NZME.

Nongfu said in its application to the Overseas Investment Office it was "actively encouraged" to invest here, and it would "adversely" affect New Zealand's image internationally if the Government subsequently blocked its investment.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage approved the investment in June, despite her party - the Greens - actively campaigning against it. Ms Sage said at the time she was "constrained by the law".

"We are now aware that the changes must be made through the Overseas Investment Act so that we don't have to make these decisions further down the track."

Nongfu's consent is currently being challenged in the Environment Court.

A spokesperson for Trade Minister David Parker told RNZ that NZTE's invitation to Nongfu occurred when National was in power.

NZTE confirmed it had courted Nongfu and other investors, foreign and domestic, but "a final decision on any sale rests with the regulators".

"NZTE... supports the economic parameters of the Government," the agency said in a statement. "As such, it ceased promoting water-bottling investment opportunities to overseas investors by the end of 2016."

Labour had promised to introduce a levy on water used for commercial purposes, but the promise was abandoned as part of its coalition deal with New Zealand First. NZ First reportedly backed a tax on water bottled for export, but was opposed to Labour's wider plans.

water poll
Photo credit: Newshub.


A poll last year found 87 percent of voters backed a levy on water bottling companies.

Nongfu said in the documents released under the OIA it was "not opposed" to a levy, and was prepared for one.