Property editor of the NZ Herald

Ngati Whatua settles contentious leases on CBD land

Rob Hutchison.
Rob Hutchison.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei has settled most lease payment negotiations on 20ha of waterfront land in the CBD around Auckland's Quay Park.

Its annual report for the June 2013 year said 80 per cent of 29 leases were renegotiated "on acceptable current-day terms, despite some negative publicity and criticism".

Some ground renters, including Scene Three apartment owners, decried a 470 per cent leasehold land bill rise from $1400/unit annually to $8000/unit.

The report said property development and investment arm Whai Rawa was also looking to commercially develop the land behind Vector Arena. Ngati Whatua o Orakei bought the Quay Park land 17 years ago but could charge no ground rent until 2011.

"As strategic as this purchase was, it did not come without a cost as previous lease arrangements locked the hapu into holding Quay Park without rental income for all that time - 2012/13 was our second year of receiving income from these leases and they now ensure we have a solid revenue base," the report said.

Progress was also made on the 28ha owned on the North Shore: 4.3ha at Wakakura in Ngataringa Rd and 24.6ha of ex-navy housing on many streets around Bayswater, leased back to the defence forces until 2018.

Discussions were held with the navy to examine options after that.

"There are exciting plans for the land on Auckland's North Shore including the potential for up to 230 residential properties. We would like to see the navy continue to use the land at Devonport and we are looking at possible housing opportunities for their staff. We want to work closely with the local community to ensure any development complements the area and its people and its growth and have been engaging with local council members and the business community," the report said.

Next to Bastion Pt, plans had been made for houses for iwi members in a development Whai Rawa is now calling Kainga Tuatahi. "The hapu housing development in Kupe St will be the fifth housing development on papakainga land since 1951. It will provide much-needed affordable homes for our whanau, and will be a first step towards home ownership for many tribal members," it said.

Building an initial 25 to 30 houses is planned, and design and allocation of the places is due this month.

"Construction of the homes will start mid-2014," the report said.

"The new homes will be close to the marae and whanau support networks, while also making the most of the city's top schools and universities.

"The new homes will be sold under an ownership model that will see the hapu procure finance for whanau who meet the eligibility criteria.

"We have been working with our partner banks to develop a new financing arrangement to support the initiative.

"Whanau who buy the homes will be offered ongoing support to ensure mortgages are sustainable and affordable. It is estimated mortgage repayments on a high-quality three-bedroom home will be around $450 a week," the report said.

Kainga Tuatahi was the first stage of a larger plan to increase the supply of affordable housing for whanau over the next 15 years.

Rob Hutchison, Whai Rawa chief executive, said in June last year the investment portfolio was valued at about $356 million but in the past 12 months, the total value had risen 49 per cent to more than $531 million.

- NZ Herald

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