Māori landowners at Matauri Bay in Northland are hoping to regain control of their whenua - by selling off an ill-fated subdivision.
The Matauri-X Incorporation mortgaged all of its land in 2001 for a $3 million loan for a worthless water company.
Its plan, to pay the debt by subdividing part of the block, was stymied by the global financial crisis and the debt spiralled to $26 million.
But the receiver, PwC, has now found a buyer for the 50-hectare subdivision and agreed to write off the balance.
The hapu's business advisor, Pat Durham, said the bulk of the land would then return to Matauri-X.
He said there was a condition in the contract that released the security over all of the land, and governance would then go back to tangata whenua.
Mr Durham said that would be a great relief to the community, and shareholders, and would give them a platform for a positive future.
He said, because the land was changed to Māori freehold to enable subdivision, the sale agreement must first be approved by the Māori Land Court.
Te Manu Korihi News understands from other sources that the prospective buyer of the Matauri Bay subdivision is Kerikeri businessman Peter Kraus.