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Proposed New Agreement on Waitara Endowment Lands

31 July 2014

Proposed New Agreement on Waitara Endowment Lands

A new way forward on the future of the Waitara endowment lands will be considered by the Council tomorrow (FRIDAY).

A proposal being negotiated between Te Atiawa’s post-settlement governance entity (PSGE) and New Plymouth District Council provides for a local bill, to be promoted by the Council with the full support of Te Atiawa, which would see the iwi own some land in Waitara and have first right of refusal on other land, in addition to their treaty settlement with the Crown.

In exchange, the iwi would support the removal of all statutory trusts and restrictions from the Waitara endowment land and any income and sale proceeds from the land.

At an extraordinary meeting tomorrow (FRIDAY) the Council will consider authorising the Mayor and Chief Executive to negotiate and enter into a high-level heads of agreement with the PSGE to advance the proposal, subject to the Council’s Local Government Act obligations and other statutory obligations.

Mayor Andrew Judd says the proposal is the result of discussions between the Council, the Crown, Te Atiawa Iwi Authority and the PSGE.

“The proposed land transfer includes 34ha of land hugely significant in New Zealand’s history, known as the Pekapeka Block. It was here that the New Zealand Wars started over a dispute about the questionable purchase of this land by the Crown,” says the Mayor.

“This is a way for the iwi to have land to stand on in Waitara and for the Council to be able to use the proceeds from endowment land for the betterment of the entire Waitara community,” he says.

The proposal entails:
• The Council transferring the title to 40ha of Waitara endowment land to Te Atiawa, comprising 34ha managed as park and grazing land on the seaward side of Battiscombe Terrace (including Marine Park and the Marine Park Motor Camp) and the 6ha Clifton Park. Management and control of the land would remain with the Council, and existing public access and recreational uses would be preserved.
• The establishment of a separate legal entity that would include representation by Te Atiawa, to have responsibility for applying the NPDC’s share of income and sale proceeds from the Waitara endowment land for the benefit of the Waitara community.
• The Council giving Te Atiawa a first right of refusal to purchase part of Ranfurly Park and part of the Waitara Golf Course if the Council resolves to sell these lands at any time.
• The PSGE supporting the removal of the out-dated legal constraints on all Waitara endowment land and income from the land, including rental and sale proceeds.
• The PSGE supporting the Council’s ability to offer leaseholders the option to freehold their properties.
• Ensuring Taranaki Regional Council’s contingent interest in the proceeds from the Waitara Harbour Endowment is accommodated.

The 40ha land transfer would include an undeveloped 6ha block zoned residential that Te Atiawa could choose to have full control of and build on. The balance transferred land would retain its public access, with the Council continuing to administer it.

“The situation for the public would be much the same as when the fee simple title in Urenui and Onaero domains transferred to Ngati Mutunga in 2005 – the underlying ownership changed but the public use did not,” says Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow.

She says if this proposal goes ahead, it would end a process that began in 1992 when the Council first put a local bill to Parliament to remove the restrictions on the endowment land.

“It has been a long process but we are close to having all the parties in agreement on the best way forward, which can only benefit the wider community,” says Mrs McKerrow.

“Once we have the endowment restrictions removed the Council will be able to consider whether to start a process of freeholding leasehold land – but for now, all our focus is on this proposed new agreement regarding the land and the local bill.”

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