Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Land reaps rewards for iwi

Auckland's hot property market helps make Ngati Whatua Orakei a financial powerhouse.

Rob Hutchison. Photo / Greg Bowker
Rob Hutchison. Photo / Greg Bowker

Ngati Whatua Orakei of Auckland has become a financial powerhouse and one of the richest iwi in New Zealand.

The annual report for the year to June 2013 declared assets of $593 million after the iwi enjoyed a huge uplift in the value and rents from extensive property holdings across the city.

The report showed the Tamaki Makaura iwi are making money from Treaty of Waitangi assets, declaring $107 million pre-tax profit for the June 2013 year, up on last year's $21.3 million.

The city's hot property market is the biggest contributor to that wealth.

The iwi declared property revaluation gains of $98.8 million and made $20.2 million cash from property rental income, largely from Auckland waterfront leasehold land, home to the Countdown supermarket, Vector Arena, Scene One, Two and Three apartments, many offices including for the BNZ, AECOM and GE, shops, a medical centre, cafes and restaurants and hotels and other buildings.

The annual report made special mention of the strong financial structures which have been established so iwi can benefit.

"Following our historic full and final settlement with the Crown in November last year, our energies have been focused on establishing our group structure so that we have the right foundations to provide opportunities for our people. Our new group structure is now operating successfully," the report said, referring to Whai Rawa, the property development and investment business.

The iwi owns Eastcliffe Retirement Village above Bastion Pt and has big plans to develop affordable housing near there at Orakei as well as retirement and affordable residences on the 4.2ha North Shore block between Devonport and Belmont at Wakakura on Ngataringa Rd.

Surveyors have been on the site that the iwi bought for $10 million.

The iwi is allowed to develop more than 100 residences there which has upset some neighbours who have circulated a flyer encouraging residents to oppose intensification.

The annual report showed investment properties rose in value from $295.4 million in the June 2012 year to $484 million by June 2013.

By the time occupation right agreements at Eastcliffe and lease values are included, property was recorded as being worth $543.5 million, up from $360.5 million last year.

Whai Rawa chief executive Rob Hutchison has indicated a big property development push is the strategy to create iwi inter-generational wealth.

Michael Stiassny chairs Whai Rawa's board and its directors are Ross Blackmore, Ngarimu Blair, Precious Clark, Rob Fenwick and Rangimarie Hunia.

The annual report noted that Whai Rawa was only officially launched at a reception in Shed 10 during September, although it has been operating longer than that.

"Whai Rawa seeks to protect our title to land, invest and develop and grow the returns on the commercial assets," the report said.

But the report also showed that Ngati Whatua had only 2268 registered members as at October 9 this year.

A spokesman explained: "That's the number of registered beneficiaries, so doesn't include children or those under 18 or those who haven't registered. They are not one of the biggest tribes in people numbers but are now one of the wealthiest," he said.

The report stressed the need to invest rather than distribute immediately.

"We continue to be focused on giving a hand up rather than a hand out," it said, referring to grants given to iwi members.

"The funds generated by Whai Rawa are used to support the tribal development goals of Whai Maia," the report said, referring to the tribal development arm whose focus is employment, education, health and wellbeing, tourism, arts and culture.

Grant Hawke, Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust chairman, wrote about the real estate push around the state housing area on Orakei near the Bastion Pt entrance.

"I am pleased to say we are moving forward on our housing initiative by investing $10 million to build up to 30 houses for our people in the Kainga Tuatahi development.

"We have already started to remove the run-down houses at the bottom of Kupe St which will provide the sites for future housing," he said, referring to more than 300 expressions of interest from whanau wanting to buy a new house there.

Homes will be up by March 2015, Hawke wrote.

Chris Darby of Auckland Council praised the result.

"Auckland's business sector should sit up and take notice," he said.

"There's a serious new player in town and I expect the smart money will be knocking on their door looking for joint venture opportunities."

- NZ Herald

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