Iwi votes against selling Shelly Bay land

6:43 pm on 12 February 2016

A Wellington-based iwi trust has not received the votes it needed to go ahead with plans to sell waterfront land at Shelly Bay.

Shelly Bay, Wellington

Shelly Bay, Wellington Photo: Flickr user side78 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust needed 75 percent in favour of the proposal but this afternoon announced it only received 51 percent.

Property firm Wellington Company had made an offer on the land for $11 million.

Neville Baker.

Neville Baker Photo: RNZ

In a statement released this evening, Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust chairman Neville Baker said he was pleased with the number who had been able to understand the sale was needed for the trust to recover from financial difficulties.

The trust is currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Mr Baker said the timing of that investigation, and the suppression orders in place around it, had impacted the vote.

"It has been extremely difficult to demonstrate with complete transparency the need for the sale of Shelly Bay," he said.

"The timing of the SFO being able to have the matter resolved in the High Court has been unfortunate in respect of the vote."

The land was purchased with the trust's treaty money for $15m in 2009 to be co-developed with Sir Peter Jackson, but those plans fell through.

It makes up more than half of the trust's assets but returns only 1.2 percent a year.

In an information sheet for iwi voters, the trust said it had no cultural ties to the land, and that it was a premature decision to purchase it and a poor one.

Proposal for special housing area

Wellington Company aimed to develop up to 300 houses in Shelly Bay.

It was a plan backed by the Wellington City Council and the government, which granted special housing area status to the project.

In special housing areas, applications for subdivisions are fast-tracked and have to be processed in a matter of months rather than years.

A total of five consultation hui have been held around the country in the past few weeks before voting closed on Tuesday 9 February.

The proposal was strongly opposed by a group of members who occupied the land shortly after the proposal was announced. Pou (symbolic poles) were erected on the site, with iwi members arguing that no Māori land should be sold.

Some iwi members have also raised concerns on Facebook pages for the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust and Taranaki-Whanui descendants about how the process has been handled.

One trustee, Holden Hohaia, said the process had been handled poorly, from a rushed timeline to a lack of information for whanau members.

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