22 Apr 2014

Hapu upset at Marsden Pt land sale

10:01 pm on 22 April 2014

Whangarei Maori seeking the return of Crown land at Marsden Point are furious it has been put up for sale.

Mighty River Power is putting 166 hectares of surplus land on the market - including the site of the former Marsden A and B power stations. The sale was advertised by the agent Colliers at the weekend as 'prime real estate'.

The Marsden B power station was dismantled and sent to India in 2012.

The Marsden B power station was dismantled and sent to India in 2012. Photo: PHOTO NZ

A lawyer representing Maori claimants, Prue Kapua, said the hapu Patu Harakeke is shocked and upset at the proposed sale.

Ms Kapua said the land is one of very few blocks left for possible return to a landless sub-tribe. The land has memorials on the title warning that it is claimed by tangata whenua.

Mighty River Power is defending its decision to sell, saying the memorials will remain on the titles when the land is sold to preserve Maori rights.

But hapu leader Julianne Chetham said that is close to meaningless.

"When these are returned they have to be bought by the iwi or hapu who has been successful through the Tribunal process and that's at market rate, we just think it will put these further and further out of our reach."

Ms Chetham says buying them back will be too expensive, as the hapu has little money. However, it will consider a court challenge to Mighty River Power.

A Whangarei environmental campaigner says Might River is misleading the public with its advertisements. Margaret Hicks opposes development at Marsden Point and said the ads describe a "magnificent seven" blocks of land, but leave out some salient facts.

"That area that's put up for sale could not by any stretch of the imagination be described as prime real estate. Trying to build on peat is an extremely expensive business. And anyway, the area has been flooded out completely when the Ruakaka flooded in 2011 extensively - I've got photographs of it."

Ms Hicks said the risk of tsunami, coastal erosion and rising sea levels also make Marsden Point unsuitable for development, and its business and residential zoning is bizarre.