Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

End near for iwi, retailer rent hearing

Tiwana Tibble, CEO of Ngati Whatua o Orakei. Photo / Greg Bowker
Tiwana Tibble, CEO of Ngati Whatua o Orakei. Photo / Greg Bowker

Hearings into Ngati Whatua's fight to increase ground rent on the first two properties in its 20ha of inner-city Auckland land are concluding.

But the iwi's boss said his organisation had tried to strike an accord with building owners on its sites.

Tiwana Tibble, chief executive of Ngati Whatua O Orakei Maori Trust Board, has said the iwi was not being unreasonable and had tried to broker deals to head off fights on the Quay Park land.

Arbitration started last Monday for sites occupied by GE Plaza in Tangihua St and BNZ in Mahuhu Cres.

"Our team met with all lessees. However we have been unwilling to lower our expectations so we have agreed to go to an independent arbitrator as required under the lease. We do not expect to go to arbitration with every single lessee, and have now focused on some key parties from separate precincts on the land.

"Early on some lessees opted to go to media in an attempt to create more leverage in their negotiations.

However, as the process is focused on fact and valuations rather than emotion, this approach has no influence. We are a landlord like any other and there are set procedures to go through," he said.

He presented at the arbitration, conducted by a former High Court judge at the Shortland St offices of law firm Minter Allison Rudd Watts in the Lumley Centre.

The hearing was set down for seven days and Tibble said Liam McEntegart represented the trust board. After the GE Plaza and BNZ hearings, arbitration will start next month on five residential leases fronting The Strand.

Tibble said in the iwi's annual report that the process was protracted.

"Firstly we have been working through detail involved in taking over direct management of ground rental of leasehold railway land properties. Although we negotiated voluntary early settlement on two leases prior to May 2010, our first formal powers under the terms of the head lease commenced on May 2, 2011 when we issued notice of rent and our valuation to all lessees by letter.

"Within 30 days all lessees responded formally, all with lower valuations than ours which was not unexpected," he said.

Paul Bray of Video Ezy Quay St complained about an extra $70,000 ground rent on his shop.

"We get no information at all, as the landlords are fed the info via the body corporate who will only deal with the building owners, not the tenants. Accordingly, I have no idea when the arbitration hearing is. Our turnover is steady with last year, thankfully," Bray said.

- NZ Herald

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