From today, people can have their say on the transfer of a former pā site located in the heart of Tauranga's central city back to Māori ownership.

Tauranga City Council has opened consultation on an agreement-in-principal to transport 11 Mission St to the Otamataha Trust.

The Otamataha Trust represents the combined interests of local hapū and recognises their historic and cultural connection to this area.

The in-principle agreement was made by a majority of Tauranga councillors on December 18 to gift the property. This was on the basis of a perpetual or ongoing lease agreement with the Elms Foundation, enabling the development of 11 Mission St as a reception and education centre.

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The long-term lease would be under a peppercorn rental agreement - meaning the Elms Foundation would pay $1 a year. The council also requested the matter, and its conditions, be consulted with the community.

Conditions include the council:
(a) Agrees in-principle to transfer the property at 11 Mission Street to the Otamataha Trust at nil consideration.
(b) Delegates authority to the chief executive to negotiate the terms and conditions of the agreement and lease arrangement with the Elms Foundation and the Otamataha Trust.
(c) That the agreement terms are reported back to the council for ratification and a decision on transfer of the property.
(d) That this matter is consulted with the community and reported back to the council.

A general summary of the proposal, council report and December 18 meeting minutes is available online here.

The property at 11 Mission St is located within the original Otamataha Pā site. Prior to being visited by missionaries in the 1820s the site was occupied by local hapū and used as a Pā, meaning local hapū lived, cared for their gardens and traded there. If transferred to the Otamataha Trust, the property would enable local hapū to reconnect with ancestral land in an area of significant cultural and historical importance to them.

These days is the property at 11 Mission St is owned by Tauranga City Council and is subject to a lease to the Elms Foundation. The Elms is one of Tauranga's oldest heritage sites and until recently the Elms have used the property at 11 Mission St to store items from its collection. In the future, the Elms plan to develop 11 Mission St into a reception and education centre. The proposed future use of 11 Mission St is supported by the Otamataha Trust.

Residents can provide feedback on the decision by completing the online submission form available on the council's website. Paper copies are also available at the council's Willow St offices and city libraries

The community will also have the opportunity to discuss the proposal with Tauranga City Council representatives and submit their feedback at open days.

This formal consultation process is an opportunity for the community to have their say before a final decision on the transfer takes place. The consultation period ends at 5pm on July 8.

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