16 Jun 2015

Greens accuse Govt of deals over land

7:14 am on 16 June 2015

The Green Party is questioning whether the Government has done closed door deals with property developers over the sale of surplus Crown land in Auckland for housing.

Crown land at Manukau in Auckland that has been identified for housing is close to shopping, education and the train station.

Crown land in Manukau identified for housing. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Ngāti Whātua and Tainui say they should be offered the land for purchase first, and are taking the matter to the High Court for clarification. The Government says it is within its rights to release the land for housing.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the Government should honour its Treaty settlements and give iwi first right of refusal instead of acting in the interests of property developers.

"The Government is skirting around its legal obligations in order to fast track the transfer of land to profit-hungry developers, some of whom may potentially be based off-shore and all of whom will be keen to cash in on the skyrocketing Auckland housing market," she said.

Ms Turei said the developers would be under no obligation to build affordable housing that "Aucklanders desperately want."

"[Building and Housing Minister] Nick Smith and National are trying everything they can to avoid this land going to iwi and that begs the question of why, and have they been doing deals with private developers behind closed doors over this land," she said.

Ms Turei said the Government should work with iwi, not fight against them. She supported iwi plans to take the matter to the High Court, but said they should not have had to do that in the first place.

Dr Smith has not responded to requests from Te Manu Korihi for comment.

He previously told Te Manu Korihi there was no first right of refusal in the specific Crown settlement with Ngāti Whātua, but there was a first right of refusal in the Tāmaki Redress Act that Parliament passed last year.

Dr Smith said the Tāmaki Redress Act made reference to the capacity for the Government to be able to develop and sell land for housing purposes.

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