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Posted by karere under Maori News
Te Atiawa now holds the power to decide whether Waitara gets a $23 million lease land payout.
New Plymouth District Council confirmed yesterday it had agreed with the Crown on a provisional $23m transfer price for its 780 lease land properties in Waitara.
Illegally confiscated following the land wars 150 years ago, the council decided in 2004 to sell to the Crown so it could be used in Treaty settlments.
Now that a price has been reached the purchase will only go ahead if Te Atiawa Iwi Authority wants the land as part of its estimated $88m treaty settlement.
Iwi authority chairwoman Wikitoria Keenan said it was still undecided if that would happen.
“I’m not sure about the price but I do know there are quite a few people who would want us to purchase it,” she said.
“But some people may look at it as an investment and say, look for $23 million you can get better value for money somewhere else.”
The authority is to hold 13 meetings over the next two weeks to hear the views of their iwi members in Wellington and Taranaki over the issue.
The decision whether to include it as part of the settlement package would be steered by the results of the consultation Ms Keenan said.
The provisional transfer price of $23m effectively values the land of the 780 properties at $29,500 a piece, far below the value on which the properties are rated.
Despite that, it is likely the authority will push to see the provisional offer lowered even more, so the deal does not take up such a significant part of its settlement.
Should the iwi accept the offer in some form the money will be shared between the New Plymouth District Council and the Taranaki Regional Council, which has interests under the 1940 Waitara Harbour Act.
New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd reiterated their portion of the cash would be set aside for the benefit of Waitara and not be thrown in with all other council income.
“It stays in Waitara,” he said.
One-time leader of the now defunct Waitara Leaseholders Association Jonathan Marshall said it made little difference which authority held the leases.
“The issue facing Waitara is the current lease process which has been set at $5000 a year. Two people have called me this week to say they are seriously considering walking off the land and letting the council and the bank fight over what is left,” he said.
Mr Marshall said it would be best for Waitara if leaseholders were allowed to freehold their land, though he did not think Te Atiawa would be open to allowing it.
Council chief executive Barbara McKerrow said the the council and the Office of Treaty Settlement had worked on establishing a fair market value for the 780 properties since April.
The two parties must still discuss the option of an alternative transfer price or whether the provisional $23m price would be the final offer.
Should Te Atiawa decide against taking the lease land, the council will reconsider what it does with the properties.
- © Fairfax NZ News[here]