The federal government in New Zealand is considering whether former television host Matt Lauer can own a farm following his firing for sexual misconduct in the workplace.
New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office is analyzing if Lauer meets the “good character” requirement foreign investors need to maintain to own land. Lauer, former host of “Today”, was fired by NBC News after a female coworker accused him of sexual misconduct. A number of inappropriate sexual behaviors were alleged following his firing.
“The Overseas Investment Office is aware that allegations have been made in relation to Matt Lauer and that he is no longer working for NBC News in the USA,” says Lisa Barrett, Deputy Chief Executive of Policy and Overseas Investment. “We are discussing this with his representative and are seeking further information.”
Lauer and his wife, Annette Roque, bought the 27,180 acre (11,000 hectare) Hunter Valley Station on New Zealand’s South Island in February 2017 through a holding company. The property is primarily for sheep and cattle grazing.
“A condition of the consent granted to Orange Lakes Ltd. to purchase the lease for Hunter Valley Station is that the individuals with control of that company must continue to be of good character,” Barrett says.
Local media reports the value of the long-term farm lease with the New Zealand government to be $9.2 million.
New Zealand just announced restrictions this week making it more difficult for foreign investors to purchase land or obtain long-term leases. Starting on Dec. 15, the Overseas Investment Office will more heavily restrict purchases of land 12.35 acres (5 hectares) or larger on farm property.
“We believe it's a privilege to own New Zealand land and that we shouldn't just be selling it willy-nilly to overseas buyers,” says New Zealand’s Associate Finance Minister David Parker.
The rule is thought to help local New Zealand farmers better compete with foreign investors when it comes to purchasing land. Prior to the rule change the Overseas Investment Office only looked at large farm applications like those for dairy farms larger than 4,942 acres (2,000 hectares) or sheep and beef farms larger than 17,297 acres (7,000 hectares).