By Maureen J Anderson
The 11 Mission St issue is quite simple.
Tauranga City Council bought the property with ratepayer money in 2006 with the express intent it be added to The Elms estate.
Controversially, in December 2018, the council decided in a split decision to gift 11 Mission St to the Otamataha Trust.
In December 1826, the schooner Herald visited Tauranga and was met by 16 well-manned canoes.
They traded potatoes, pigs and flax. The missionaries refused to sell them muskets and powder, however, the brig Hawels later supplied these.
Twelve months later, the Herald returned to find that Ngati Maru had taken the Otamataha Pa, killed Chief Koraurau and many of his people, and took remainder as slaves. The few survivors escaped to the Maungatpu Pa.
On January 3, 1838, Rev Alfred Brown and his family arrived at Tauranga.
Brown was disappointed the peninsula was a treeless waste of fern. Brown negotiated on behalf of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and bought the top part of the peninsula from its Maori owners.
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The Deed of Sale (Te Papa Block No.1) read: "Know all men by this deed that we rangatira of Tauranga do let go and sell to Rev. A.N. Brown (Te Paraone) on behalf of the Church Miss'y Society, and to their heirs and assigns for ever, the lands belong to our fathers and to us also."
A list of trade goods received in payment then follows: "We have received 20 blankets, 10 spades, 10 adzes, 10 axes, 10 hoes and 10 iron pots."
The document, in Maori and English, was signed by 17 rangatira.
On March 30, 1839, five months after the first sale, rangatira were keen to acquire more goods and offered the rest of the Tauranga peninsula extending as far as Pukehinahina hill.
This was the Te Papa No 2 Block - 1334 acres in total. This sale was agreed to by 28 rangatira with much larger items of payment required. No muskets were ever traded by the CMS.
After the treaty, Governor Hobson set up a Land Commission to review all land sales prior to 1840. Both Te Papa No 1 and No 2 blocks were approved as a fair trade and that no muskets were involved.
Te Papa No 1 (where 11 Mission St is located) was not inhabited or cultivated as the land was tapu. It was near the pa site, (where the Mission Cemetery is today), and where hundreds were slaughtered.
The Government in 1867 wanted to establish a town on the peninsula and the CMS reluctantly agreed to yield 4/5th of its land to the Government and kept 247 acres which included the Mission Station. On July 22, 1873, Brown bought the Mission house and the surrounding 17 acres.
In 1913, the greater part of Brown's 17 acres from Brown St northwards, including 11 Mission St, was surveyed into 47 building sections and Mission and Marsh Streets were formed. Proceeds from the sales were used for the upkeep of The Elms. The Brown/Maxwell families lived at The Elms for more than 160 years.
In December 1998, The Elms Foundation Trust bought The Elms for $1.5 million of which the council contributed $500,000. In 1999, The Friends of The Elms was founded to provide volunteer support to the Foundation.
The Elms Foundation in 2004 paid a $10,000 deposit to buy 11 Mission St to protect its eastern boundary but could not arrange finance. The council bought 11 Mission St in 2006 with the intent for it to be part of The Elms estate.
In 2010, The Elms Foundation bought 7 Mission St (in front of number 11) for $1.285 million with the intention of amalgamating titles once the council had transferred 11 Mission St's ownership to The Elms.
The Elms plans were to build a visitor centre/museum over both sites to display its stored artefacts.
No Tauranga land was confiscated until after the battle of Te Ranga in 1864. It is wrong to infer that 11 Mission St was taken or confiscated land because it had been in private ownership since 1838 and therefore excluded from Treaty of Waitangi claims.
While the dealings of the CMS with the Crown over the transfer of Te Papa has resulted in an apology by the Anglican Church, any atonement for these perceived sins is entirely the business of the Church and the Crown and not ratepayers.
Freehold and leasehold titles cannot be amalgamated, therefore severely compromising The Elms ability to finance any buildings or undertake development.
This also creates difficulties if TECT and the council provide future funding for The Elms and need to protect their interests by caveating the property, as already applies to other Elms properties.
The proposed lease will require The Elms to consult with the trust over any development involving 11 Mission St. In this way, the trust will control the future of The Elms. Lease terms are not set in stone and can be varied or cancelled by agreement.
Under the terms of Empowering Act, the trust runs for 80 years. If the proposed lease commenced on the expiry of the current lease between Elms and the council in 2021 then on renewal of the 99 year lease the trust would not have existed for some 17 years
Any gifting to the trust will, in my opinion, create a precedent. This was rejected by some councillors but Buddy Mikaere, of Ngai Tamarawaho, talked about Kulim Park being transferred to the hapu at no cost and co-managed, and said 11 Mission St set a precedent for this (Bay of Plenty Times, June 19).
This was rejected by some councillors but Bay of Plenty Times columnist Buddy Mikaere, in a column of June 19, wrote about Kulim Park being transferred to the hapu at no cost and co-managed and he said, "11 Mission St as creating a precedent".
A lease to The Elms, in my opinion, is fraught with insurmountable difficulties and is simply unworkable.
It is important to remember that it is TCC ratepayers that fund The Elms financial shortfalls.
The sole consideration is that the councillors' decision must be based on what is in the best interest of The Elms and should not be to the disadvantage of The Elms or ratepayers and the community.
I do not support the transfer of 11 Mission St to any organisation other than The Elms.
Council needs to transfer 11 Mission St to The Elms.
- Maureen J Anderson is a former mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and community advocate.