18 Jun 2015

Ngāti Tama content to let leases rollover

8:44 am on 18 June 2015

Ngāti Tama says it is unlikely to oppose the extension of leases at the historic bach settlement at Tongaporutu.

Baches at Tongaporutu

Baches at Tongaporutu Photo: RNZ/ Robin Martin

The 10-year leases for the 26 baches, some of which are 100 years old and are recognised by Heritage New Zealand, expired in March.

The New Plymouth District Council is proposing to offer new 20-year leases.

Ngāti Tama spokesperson Greg White said the iwi was content to let the leases roll over at this stage.

"We're reasonably comfortable with the leases rolling over again, not as comfortable as with a 10 year lease but according to the council they say it always cost money to run these reviews and that's the reason for them extending to 20 years, which sounds reasonable to me."

Mr White said the iwi included the reserve land, which contains important ancestral land, in its Waitangi Treaty claim, but the council was reluctant to relinquish ownership.

"Ngāti Tama retains an interest in the reserve but it provokes all kinds of tension that it can do without at the moment," he said.

The council granted the 10-year leases in 2005 after 30-year Crown leases expired.

Not everybody was happy and Tongaporutu resident Victor Gibbs, who wanted the baches removed, sought a judicial review which was eventually lost.

Council manager of property assets, Peter Handcock, said it had given the go-ahead to begin public consultation on the proposed leases now that a Tongaporutu Management Plan was complete.

"Now that we have the plan in place, we can start considering the future of these bach leases," he said.

Baches at Tongaporutu

Photo: RNZ/ Robin Martin

Mr Handcock said because of Ngāti Tama's special relationship with the land the council had specifically said it wanted to consult with the iwi on the future of the leases.

The recommended consultation would cover whether the land on which the baches are located is likely to be used as a recreation reserve and whether the reserve status of the land should be revoked.

It would also cover whether the council should grant the leases and if so, on what terms.

If the proposed new leases are adopted they would require the baches to be used only as holiday homes and for no longer than eight months a year.