SPEECH: Southland Should Be NZ's Wealthiest Region

Campaign for the Regions Tour -INVERCARGILL

Ascot Park Hotel,


July 10, 2017



Southlanders have had to put up with a lot in recent times.

You must be a very tolerant lot.

However, the local MP debacle and the shiftiness of the Prime Minister must have opened some eyes to the machinations of the modern National Party.

SOUTHLAND’S WEALTH Southland comprises about 3% of New Zealand’s population and contributes about 18% of New Zealand’s exports.

That is a record no other New Zealand province can boast. 

You have some of the most wonderful scenery and that tourism mecca, Queenstown, is part of your region.

You abound with resources.

And if you are New Zealand’s’ leading export province and you have what is arguably the tourism capital of New Zealand, why is that not reflected in Southland’s incomes, population’s growth and standard of living?

What is happening in Southland is what we have found in other parts of New Zealand as we have travelled on our Campaign for the Regions bus tour.

From Northland to Taranaki, Whanganui, Motueka and Tasman, Hokitika, and Greymouth, Timaru and Oamaru, and Balclutha.

You are being left out.

Much of your wealth is being sucked out of your region.

And far too little is coming back.

You have also been taken for granted by National.

That is obvious.


It’s pay-back time for Southland.

You deserve better.

And New Zealand First has the policies to make it possible.


Tourism is bringing in millions of dollars to the Southland economy. And the government is creaming off millions in GST and you are not getting a cent back.

To ensure you get full benefit, NZ First will return the GST component paid by international tourists in Southland to the region.

This money could be used for tourism infrastructure as well as roads and to stimulate job training and opportunities.

The government took $1.5 billion in GST from international visitors in the year to March 2016, and $950m the year before, yet little has gone to councils that desperately need money for toilets, sewerage schemes and local road improvements to cope with tourist numbers.


Under our Royalties from the Regions policy, no less than 25 percent of any royalties collected by the government from water, mining, petroleum or extraction in a region would be returned to that region.

As an example, the government collects over $400 million in royalties.

Under our scheme over $100 million, year on year, would remain in the regions for investment.

It is demonstrably wrong that companies like Coca Cola, Suntory Holdings, Oravida, Fiji Water – can take our water for a pitiful token fee while they make millions of dollars from it. National says no-one owns the water – so foreign companies can come in and take it.


The financial system of this country is affected by the value of New Zealand’s dollar which plays economic and political favouritism.

The over-inflated value of our dollar heavily favours foreign banks, insurance companies and currency traders, which explains why our NZ dollar is among the most highly traded in the world.

There’s no polite way to state this but the whole province of Southland is being ripped off by over-valuation of our dollar.

To make Southland prosper the farming community and exporters must have an exchange rate that supports them.

Our Reserve Bank Act is out of date.

We have an overvalued NZ dollar that has been a bonanza for financial speculators and traders but not exporters.   Despite the relatively small size of our economy our dollar is one of the most heavily traded international currencies.

We need an exchange rate that serves real economic goals like strong and growing regional exports.

The Bank’s outdated focus on inflation must be ditched.


Dairy is our second biggest export earner behind tourism and is a major player in the Southland economy.

You would think we would have total control of this vitally important industry. We don’t. We are steadily losing the added-value of our dairy produce.

Chinese companies Evergrand, Synlait, Yashili, Yili/Oceania Dairy and the Chinese controlled Mataura Valley Milk have tied up Infant Formula production here.

China own, operate and control the supply chain from New Zealand to the baby’s mouth in China.

That has to end.

We must retain control of our biggest export earners.


A few months ago we saw the axe fall on Silver Fern Farms’ meat plant at Fairton near Ashburton.

Hundreds have been thrown out of work.

The CEO of Silver Fern Farms said southern plants would not be affected and were safe “for now.”

That means anything can happen.

The fact is our red meat industry is in crisis whether commentators realise it or not.

The National government is leading this country along the road of foreign ownership and the main highway leads to China.

We have a key export resource, red meat, with all its added value potential, rapidly passing into foreign ownership.

That needs to be addressed.


Small businesses are vitally important to Southland.

They need incentives and assistance.

New Zealand First will provide a wage subsidy for small businesses that take on job seekers and provide work experience.

We will provide immediate tax deductions for every new business asset costing under $20,000 as well as a tax deduction for professional expenses when starting a business.

We will get National’s nanny state off your back.


NZ First will also shift government departments out of Wellington and Auckland and spread them into regional centres like Invercargill.


NZ First is committed to a massive campaign to seal local roads, improve overall road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible.

We want this country to have a fully co-ordinated transportation strategy with road, rail and coastal shipping.

We can’t have just trucks.

We support the proposal to revive the Christchurch-Invercargill passenger train service.

But there must also be more freight directed back to rail also.


National has sat by and allowed the sell-off of some of New Zealand’s most pristine farmland.

In recent days we have learned iconic Mt White station near Arthur’s Pass is likely to be snapped up by foreign buyers.

Recreational groups are worried public access could be denied them and this happens every time a station goes under the hammer to a foreign buyer.

Sales of land to foreign owners went through the roof last year.

Foreign buyers snapped up 465,863 hectares in 2016, compared to 79,897 hectares sold to foreigners in 2015.

Where is the gain for New Zealand?

Our preference is for New Zealanders to farm and look after the land for generations to come.

National is so pro overseas ownership they voted against our Bill to set up a register of land and house ownership. Yesterday the Greens had a launch at Nelson.

With a policy that is not theirs, that is charging for exports of water, but ours. I have given possibly 50 speeches on that. But they then decided to attack New Zealand First for being racist. Racism? – Really?

On TV One’s Q&A programme yesterday Green Party's co-leader Metiria Turei described me as racist.

Is there a lower and cheaper political ploy than to throw the term “racist” around?

To smear someone with that term of denigration is a sign of utter desperation.

Because use of that word is a tactic - it avoids having to present rational and reasoned arguments, evidence and actual ideas.

Using the term “racist” is intended as a form of intimidation.

To imply NZ First has racist policies is rubbish  - and ordinary New Zealanders have no doubt of that.

They do not need the Green Party's co-leader Metiria Turei acting as some sort of self-appointed vigilante and pontificating to them on who she considers  “racist”.

What is really going on is a brazen attempt to suppress discussion and debate on serious matters of policy such as immigration and special privileges for certain groups in society.

The Green Party has a habit of claiming the moral high ground for its views.

It also has pretentions of being a party that should be taken seriously.

Well, what the Green Party's co-leader’s outburst confirms is that what the Greens actually want to do is curb, curtail and silence views it does not agree with.

NZ First’s policy is clear:

• To stand for a sensible immigration policy is not racist

• To stand for equality before the law for all New Zealanders is not racist

• To stand for free and open discussion of the issues facing all New Zealanders is not racist

The Green Party owes NZ First an apology for the totally unwarranted and outrageous outburst by its co-leader Metiria Turei. Most importantly, the Green Party owes all New Zealanders an apology for betraying the basic principles of political debate in New Zealand – free speech and critical inquiry - by trying to smear NZ First as “racist.” CONCLUSION

Your region, like others we have seen, have been neglected and ignored by central government.

They take you for granted.

You can sit back and take all this if you want.

But NZ First says it is time to stand up and make a change.

Don’t be ignored; don’t be forgotten; don’t be taken for granted.

Southland and the regions of New Zealand must stand up and make their voices heard.

We will make sure you are heard.

New Zealand First will change the direction this country is going in and revive regional New Zealand.

Everyone here can contribute.