Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Council bid to keep navy land public

The Auckland Council is calling for the Government to find something else other than the navy land (pictured) at Narrow Neck for a Treaty settlement deal. Photo / Janna Dixon
The Auckland Council is calling for the Government to find something else other than the navy land (pictured) at Narrow Neck for a Treaty settlement deal. Photo / Janna Dixon

Auckland Council is calling for the Government to find something other than the navy land at Narrow Neck for a Treaty settlement deal.

Its decision yesterday to protest against the Crown offer to sell the 3.2ha site to Ngati Whatua O Orakei follows a weekend meeting of 500 people who demanded it stay as a future public recreation reserve.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told the meeting in the navy gym that the Crown stood by its decision to include the land as commercial redress for a claims settlement.

If the hapu decided to buy, the settlement legislation - now before Parliament's Maori affairs select committee - would transfer the land out of Crown ownership and remove it from the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act.

The legislation would revoke the site's reserve status.

However, the Ministry of Defence would lease the site from the hapu for up to 150 years.

As for future commercial development of the site, the minister said in a letter to Mayor Len Brown that regulatory constraints, such as under the Resource Management Act, would remain and council planning designations were not affected by the settlement.

Mr Brown had earlier written to the minister expressing his support for settling "very real and documented grievances" of Ngati Whatua O Orakei but wanted to engage the Crown about high-level concerns over including the Narrow Neck land as part of commercial redress.

In a bid to break the stalemate, Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Chris Darby yesterday put an alternative proposal to the council's Auckland Plan Committee, which he said would be a "lot more generous" to Ngati Whatua O Orakei.

Narrow Neck was made up of five land titles - owned by the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Conservation and the council.

It would be better to restore whenua status to the whole of Takapuna Head - in a similar arrangement to Maori co-governance of the 11 volcanic cones or maunga in Auckland.

Applying this to Narrow Neck would be a cultural redress arrangement rather than a commercial one.

It would require the Government to write a cheque to make up the difference between the site's value for cultural redress and the $13.8 million price tag which the Crown wanted.

The public can make submissions on the settlement offer to Parliament's Maori affairs committee before April 18.

- NZ Herald

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