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Government and iwi reach agreement for private housing

Government and iwi reach agreement for private housing on Crown land in Auckland

By Fiona Rotherham

Sept. 3 (BusinessDesk) - The government has reached agreement with Ngati Whatua over selling 500 hectares of excess land in Auckland for private housing which had been under High Court challenge.

Under the deal announced by building and housing minister Nick Smith today, the government has agreed to give the Nga Mana Whenua iwi and hapu first opportunity to develop any of the Crown land subject to a right of first refusal before offering it to private sector developers. In return, Ngati Whatua has withdrawn the legal proceedings it had filed in the High Court to fast track the resolution of its difference of opinion with the Crown over the extent of that right of first refusal.

The Tamaki Collective Deed of Settlement, signed in 2012 between the Crown and Nga Mana Whenua o Tamaki Makaurau, included a protocol stipulating that where the government intends to develop land subject to a right of first refusal for state housing purposes, it must provide the iwi with first opportunity to be the developer. That right of first refusal came into effect last year.

Smith said the new agreement reinforces this protocol as well as setting out further ways for the government and iwi to work together on common objectives in housing. The major difference under the new agreement compared to the protocol is that the land is specifically set aside for housing and the government can set the development pace and type of housing required.

“The agreement includes a shared commitment for 20 percent of new houses delivered through the Auckland housing programme to be made available for purchase by community housing providers, and for a further 20 percent priced as affordable for first home buyers,” Smith said.

The amount set as attainable for first home buyers is said to likely be no more than the KiwiSaver HomeStart cap which is currently $550,000.

The government has assessed potential sites, focusing on parcels of land that can fit 60 homes or more. The next step is to issue an invitation to partner on the developments, which would allow iwi partners to take up the opportunity either on their own or in partnership with other developers.

Smith said he was hopeful of having the first development agreements in place this year and the first homes completed by the end of next year. The land is likely to remain in government ownership until sold on as completed houses.

Waikato-Tainui also has right of first refusal over some pockets of land in Auckland as part of its 1998 Treaty settlement. If these areas are to be used for private housing, the iwi will be notified and their first right of refusal respected, the government said.

(BusinessDesk)

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