Land contamination and instability, a tunnel's intrusion and industry degradation were ammunition used against Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board to argue for lower leasehold payments on 20ha of Auckland land.
For the past few weeks, experts have fought in a boardroom at the Lumley Centre on Shortland St before Robert Fisher QC about the value of land on 39 leasehold agreements beneath dozens of buildings in the downtown waterfront area which could generate millions of dollars annually for the board.
Fisher's decision, due in the next few weeks, is awaited with intense interest by the residential, commercial and retail leaseholders on the Quay Park and Parnell land which could be worth $460 million.
Valuation experts fighting for lower leasehold payments are understood to have cited land degradation from decades of railway use, instability issues post-reclamation and the Britomart rail tunnel as a reason for lower payments. Years of use by trains and railway carriages rumbling through the area, spilling oil and other chemicals, spoilt the land and made it less valuable, they claimed.
Negative effects of traffic nuisance from a network of main arterial roading routes near the apartments and townhouses was also argued by the apartment and townhouse owners.
The test cases have been heard and valuation experts say these will set a precedent for many other leaseholders in the area.
Challenges were brought by the owners of the BNZ at 30 Mahuhu Cres and GE Plaza at 8 Tangihua St and residential leaseholders of 317 properties: 112 townhouses on Cotesmore Way, Sudbury Tce and Dovedale Place, the luxury 125-unit Mirage apartments and more than 80 units in nearby Parnell Terraces.
Ngati Whatua is seeking 6 per cent of the value of the highest, best use of vacant sites without building improvements.
Some townhouse owners said they had been asked for $600 a month or $7200 a year, but others said the fees were almost $10,000 a year.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Ngati Whatua bought the 20ha block of ex-railway land bounded by The Strand, Quay St and Beach Rd in 1996. Buildings include:
* Vector Arena.
* Countdown Auckland City.
* Quay Street shops.
* Scene 1, 2 and 3 apartments.
* Hudson Brown apartments.
* Grand Central apartments.
* The Landings Parnell.
* Quay Park Health.
* Parnell Terraces.
* Townhouses in Cotesmore Way, Sudbury Tce and Dovedale Place.
* Quba Apartments.
* Waldorf Stadium Apartments.
* Eight Mahuhu, 8-level office block.