Property editor of the NZ Herald

Ngai Tahu portfolio shaken by quakes

Lake Wakatipu. Photo / Dean Purcell
Lake Wakatipu. Photo / Dean Purcell

The impact of Christchurch earthquakes on wealthy South Island Maori iwi Ngai Tahu will soon be revealed.

Greg Campbell, Ngai Tahu chief executive, said results for the year to June 30 would be out shortly and it would show new valuations of real estate after the quakes.

The iwi is one of the South Island's richest landlords with a $450 million portfolio with big development potential but many buildings in Christchurch.

The earthquakes forced Ngai Tahu Holdings and Ngai Tahu Property to move headquarters to 50 Corsair Drive at Wigram, and although Ngai Tahu Seafood is still operating from its plant near Christchurch Airport, Ngai Tahu Tourism has moved to Aviation House on the corner of Orchard Rd and Memorial Ave at Burnside.

Campbell could not put any numbers on damage to the iwi's $653.2 million asset base, declared in the 2010 accounts, but said valuers had made detailed assessments.

"We've got a big portion of buildings in Christchurch and what's going to happen to the values?" he said.

"We still don't know about geotechnic issues so there's a lot of uncertainty."

But the business was well positioned to be involved in the city's rebuild.

Ngai Tahu has Canterbury's largest planned residential land developments at Wigram, Lincoln and Marshlands' Prestons Rd.

"We have 1700 sections at Wigram, 2700 at Prestons Rd in the east at Marshlands and 900 sections at Lincoln in a joint venture," Campbell said.

Geotechnical studies indicated the land still had good potential.

"While it's been catastrophic for a lot of companies, there's an opportunity for Ngai Tahu to be involved in rebuilding and being part of the solution." he said.

He hoped that when homeowners with quake-ruined properties got payouts they would not be told they had to wait for years for a new house and consider leaving Christchurch.

Campbell said that was one of the city's largest challenges and where he saw Ngai Tahu playing a big role.

The iwi's investment portfolio includes many Crown-tenanted buildings such as the court buildings in Christchurch and Queenstown and police buildings in Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown, as well as the Tower Junction Mega Centre in Christchurch.

The Queenstown Post Office Precinct has office and retail space, and rural investments are High Country stations and land leased to forestry companies.

"Ngai Tahu Property has developing aspirations in the rural sector and currently owns within Te Waipounamu/the South Island 83,600ha of rural land, of which currently 90 per cent is leased to forestry companies," the iwi says.

"Ngai Tahu intends to develop over 35,000ha of this portfolio to agricultural and other higher and better uses.

"Ngai Tahu also owns and operates 29,000ha of High Country stations at the head of Lake Wakatipu."

The iwi also has lifestyle development projects at Akaroa with Tiromoana and at Lake Brunner at Iveagh Bay.

- NZ Herald

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