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Council May Seek to Free Up Waitara Endowment Lands Income

Council May Seek to Free Up Waitara Endowment Lands Income

New Plymouth District Council will consider whether it will try to free up the uses of any rental income or sales proceeds it earns from the Waitara endowment lands.

A report to the Council, which will be debated at its meeting on Tuesday next week (17 June), recommends taking steps to remove the statutory trusts and restrictions on the land so that any of its rental income and sales proceeds can be used for the benefit of the Waitara community.

“The Council’s ultimate aim is to get to a situation that benefits the wider Waitara community including Te Atiawa, and which protects the interests of both New Plymouth District Council and Taranaki Regional Council,” says Mayor Andrew Judd.

The Deed of Settlement between the Crown and Te Atiawa includes provision for any proceeds from the sale of endowment land to be freed from the existing statutory trusts and restrictions if the Council sells to the iwi. However, if NPDC sells the land to anyone else, the statutory trusts and restrictions would not be removed.

Te Atiawa Iwi Authority has elected to not take ownership of the land as part of its settlement with the Crown.

“Those trusts and restrictions mean most of the income from the leases or any sales proceeds have to be used for the prevention of erosion at Waitara River or to build a bridge over the river – requirements that have a very narrow benefit for the community,” says the Mayor.

“There are similar restrictions to income from the remainder of the endowment land.

“The question that needs to be asked is if we should try to remove the statutory trusts and restrictions from all the income and sales proceeds, no matter who we sell the land to, so that every dollar we get from the land can be used for the betterment of the entire Waitara community.”

The report that will be considered by the Council on Tuesday recommends that NPDC:

Terminates the 7 September 2010 agreement for sale and purchase between the Council and the Crown.
Instructs the Chief Executive to enter discussions with the Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and the Office of Treaty Settlements with a view to getting Government support for a local bill to remove the restrictions on accumulated and future income and the proceeds of sale, regardless of whether the purchaser is Te Atiawa or not.
Instructs the Chief Executive to enter discussions with Taranaki Regional Council regarding the distribution of any income between the two councils, how any income would be applied and the promotion of a local bill to Parliament.
Instructs the Chief Executive to instruct the Council’s lawyers to prepare a draft local bill that entirely frees the Waitara endowment land from its existing statutory trusts and restrictions, for consideration by the Council.
Once the full implications of the Deed of Settlement have been clarified, the Chief Executive prepare a comprehensive issues and options report on the future of the Waitara endowment lands for the Council to consider.
The Council first sent a local bill to Parliament in 1989 to enable leaseholders to acquire the freehold interest in their leasehold land. At the request of the Government, the Council conducted an extensive consultation with Te Atiawa and the general public on the future of the Waitara leasehold lands, and decided on 20 March 2004 to offer part of the Waitara Endowment Land (non-Crown land) to the Crown for inclusion in the settlement of Te Atiawa’s historical claims under the Treaty of Waitangi. This was subject to a number of conditions, including:

The Council receives fair market value for the land.
The rights of lessees under existing leases be preserved.
The settlement legislation provides for the land to vest free of all statutory trusts, restrictions and other reservations – enabling the Council’s share of the proceeds to be used for the wider benefit of the Waitara community. The TRC share would be used for general harbour purpose for public benefit.
TRC has substantial interest in the land as it is the successor of the Waitara Harbour Board and has an entitlement to surplus funds under the Waitara Harbours Act 1940. The former Waitara Harbour Board lands comprise 80 per cent of the endowment lands.

In September 2010 NPDC signed a deed with TRC that provides for the net proceeds of the sale of land subject to the Waitara Harbour Act 1940 to be distributed between NPDC and TRC.

ends

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