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Crafar family head adamant he will stay on farm

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, April 23 NZPA - The head of the Crafar family continues to insist they will remain in their homes, despite being issued with trespass notices for staying on farms that have been put into receivership.

In October, Michael Stiassny and Brendon Gibson of KordaMentha were appointed receivers to the Crafar farms, and yesterday Bayleys Real Estate announced 16 farms owned by the Crafar family had been placed on the market.

But members of the Crafar family have resisted efforts by receivers to get them to leave their farms, spurning an offer of six months' free rent in Rotorua.

Mr Stiassny said the matter had been passed on to lawyers.

Family head Allan Crafar continued to be defiant today.

"We're not illegal trespassers. We bought these farms, we've worked our guts out for these farms ... Why should we move out?" he told Radio New Zealand.

"We're still directors of the properties. The properties haven't been sold, so why should we move? And anyway, you know, there's nothing to say we don't jack up the money and pay the debt off," he said.

"Obviously, people believed that we were capable and good enough people for them to lend it to us in the first place, so why wouldn't someone else do it who had some foresight and some faith in hard working people?"

Mr Crafar also hit out at the treatment of his brother Frank.

"Pretty frightening for a blind man to be threatened with people coming and evicting him and stuff. I think it's absolutely despicable, quite honestly," Allan Crafar said.

"He's virtually completely blind...and has never had a driver's licence, so he's got a hell of a long way in 50 years of hard work in the dairy industry."

Frank Crafar is reported to have said he would move but only if paid the six months' rent offered by the receivers as a lump sum.

"It's pretty serious for him. So he said, 'you give me the money, I might think about going'," Allan Crafar said.

Yesterday, Mr Stiassny told Radio New Zealand the Crafar receivership had been a "nightmare".

"We were surprised by the state of animal welfare. We were surprised by the issues we had with the local councils around effluent and building consents, and I guess we were pretty surprised by the belligerence of the Crafars in assisting people to remove cows and things like that."

About 1500 stock were taken one day with the help of the Crafars. Most of the animals were now back and there were arrangements for the others, Mr Stiassny said.

Allan Crafar said, "You've got to feed cows, otherwise you don't get production. By feeding cows, I don't mean you're going to have obese cows. You've never seen a fat athlete, have you? These cows work, work, work all their life for you."

The family had taken on farms in fringe areas, that had not had dairy farming before, he said.

"We got caught out by a sharp downturn after getting good advice from high up people that the payout was going to stay high for several years, we had a collapse in the price which has actually turned out maybe quite a temporary collapse in the price," Allan Crafar said.

The 16 farms now for sale employ nearly 200 staff and cover 8000ha. Individual farms range in size from 128ha to 1750ha.

The farms support almost 17,000 dairy cows. They are located in Waikato, Benneydale in the King Country, in the Bay of Plenty at Reporoa, Atiamuri near Taupo, near Hawera in Taranaki, and Waverley and Bulls in Rangitikei.

Several farms are also being run as dry stock units.

The Crafar family owed more than $200 million to PGG Wrightson, Westpac and Rabobank.

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