'We weren't going to be pushed out in a hurry' - John McIvor

After 30 years of asking, they finally said yes.

The last rural neighbours of Auckland International Airport near its main gateway entrance have finally sold to the sprawling giant next door -- ending a resistance dating back to 1986.

John McIvor's family have owned the Mangere land since 1951 and their old-style farm near the airport's landscaped entranceway is strikingly different in the area, now dominated by logistics and commercial buildings.

The family's story echoes Australian movie The Castle where a Melbourne family fought the Government and airport authorities to stay in their home.

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"We weren't going to be pushed out in a hurry," McIvor told the Weekend Herald. "We didn't intend to, but they've been at us since 1986."

Under the deal, the McIvor family is allowed to remain in their home until the end of 2018.

No price was disclosed and no sum appears on property records -- but the property has a CV of more than $10 million.

"We got a reasonable price for us," said McIvor, whose parents, John and Iris McIvor, initially farmed there in the 1950s.

But the city came out to meet the farm: the airport expanded and its main entranceway from the city turned from a road into a highway, passing tall old macrocarpa trees, rusting vehicle bodies and the McIvors' residential-style letterbox at 162 George Bolt Memorial Dr.

The McIvor family property at 162 George Bolt Memorial Dr has a number of old buildings on it. Photo/Jason Oxenham
The McIvor family property at 162 George Bolt Memorial Dr has a number of old buildings on it. Photo/Jason Oxenham

"We had to sell some time or other," he said of the deal agreed on late last year.

"I'm going on 85 now. But we stay for two years. The airport will develop it," he predicted.

See a Google map of the farm's location

The land is thought to have first been owned by Colonel Marmaduke Nixon.

The last remaining farm on the main approach to the airport. Photo/Jason Oxenham
The last remaining farm on the main approach to the airport. Photo/Jason Oxenham

The British army officer settled in Mangere in 1852 but when the Waikato War broke out, he formed the settlers' Mounted Defence Force and led a raid on a village at Rangiaowhia, an event highlighted in the Herald book of the year The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000 (Bridget Williams Books) by Vincent O'Malley.

In 2015, Maureen said the family were not selling and that the siblings would sit tight.

"The airport have wanted to buy it but we say no because it's not compulsory," she said, referring to compulsory acquisition powers under the Public Works Act.

Old trees dominate the farm near the airport. Photo/Jason Oxenham
Old trees dominate the farm near the airport. Photo/Jason Oxenham

"We're quite happy to sit here and my oldest brother, he's the one running things," she said of John, then aged 83.

The McIvors regarded themselves as "the only ones left", living quietly in their weatherboard house as vehicles roared down the four-lane airport approach and jet planes swooped overhead.

"We used to run dry animals, bull calves, etc, and had 13 acres [5.2ha]. We sold the back lot and now we've got 10 acres. All the factories and buildings are going up and we don't have our nice view," Maureen lamented to the Herald in late 2015.

John McIvor's family has owned the property since 1951. Photo/Jason Oxenham
John McIvor's family has owned the property since 1951. Photo/Jason Oxenham

John McIvor told how progress had also brought inconvenience.

"You can't turn right out of here now," he complained of George Bolt Memorial Dr, so busy and wide that he is forced to turn left, then take the nearby roundabout before heading north.

The original house on the property was run-down so John had the current cream weatherboard place moved there.

"This place had an old house that they built for soldiers after the Maori wars," McIvor recalled.

Cars whiz down George Bolt Memorial Dr, past the farm owned by one family since 1951. Photo/Jason Oxenham
Cars whiz down George Bolt Memorial Dr, past the farm owned by one family since 1951. Photo/Jason Oxenham

He now plans to buy land elsewhere and again shift the weatherboard house, taking it with him when he leaves.

Airport property general manager Mark Thomson confirmed the purchase.

"This is a logical acquisition for us as the land is on the corner of a key intersection at the entrance to Auckland Airport, where we already own the adjacent sites. Owning this site therefore affords us more flexibility to build the infrastructure and other developments that may be necessary to accommodate growth."

John McIvor understood part of the front of the property would be used for road widening.

Motor vehicle bodies on the farm. Photo/Jason Oxenham
Motor vehicle bodies on the farm. Photo/Jason Oxenham

Thomson paid tribute to the family's links to the area. "The McIvor family has been a neighbour of Auckland Airport for over half a century and the arrangements we have agreed with them, which are private, have afforded a level of flexibility which reflects the good faith in which it was agreed."

McIvor never took advantage of his proximity to the airport, although he said friends had occasionally parked at the farm.

But the octogenarian never contemplated the short stroll down George Bolt Memorial to an airline gateway.

"I've never flown anywhere. I've always been tied up here and never could get away."

Farm facts

• 162 George Bolt Memorial Dr
• Farmed by McIvor family since 1951
• 4.1 hectares near airport gateway
• Capital value: $10,250,000
• Rates 2016/17: $71,690.83
• Vendors: John, Maureen and David McIvor
• Owner: Auckland International Airport
• Sale price: Undisclosed

Source: Auckland Council