Arbitration has begun over rent payments on the country's largest, most valuable Maori leasehold inner-city land.
Ngati Whatua O Orakei Maori Trust Board is formally attempting to reach settlement with owners of the first two buildings on its Auckland's waterfront land.
At issue is what Quay Park commercial owners of GE Plaza at 8 Tangihua St and the BNZ at 30 Mahuhu Cres owe the iwi for being on their land.
The iwi owns about 20ha of ex-railway land in the area, worth at least $460 million but for 15 years it did not charging a cent in rent for dozens of properties like Vector Arena, Countdown on Quay St, the three high-rise Scene apartments, The Docks apartments, Quay Park Health and Grand Central Railway campus.
Now that term has expired, the iwi wants apartment owners and commercial landlords to begin paying new annual charges equating to 6 per cent of the raw or unimproved land value. But those lessees whose buildings are on the land are arguing down the valuations in an attempt to minimise their payments and get what they see as a fairer deal.
In the iwi's national report Tiwana Tibble, chief executive of Ngati Whatua O Orakei, said the hearings, once arbitrated, "will set the precedents for all others to follow".
"In the interim we have started collecting rent from a large number of lessees, based on a halfway mark between theirs and our valuation. These payments are being made without prejudice to the arbitration to follow."
But Paul Bray, of Video Ezy Quay St, complained about the process and said the new charges were driving businesses away.
Four businesses nearby had left and Mr Bray faced a new $70,000 leasehold ground rent in addition to the annual $80,500 he pays to rent his store.By Anne Gibson @Anne Gibson Email Anne