An Auckland couple who established a $13 billion investment firm are planning to develop a luxury resort on land with an archaeologically important pā site and the only vehicle accessway to the Ōmaha Marae and a sacred urupā.
Panetiki, owned by Hugh and Carmel Fisher, formerly of Fisher Funds, has applied to Auckland Council to demolish existing buildings and develop new ones on a headland north of Leigh.
But their plans last year to get helicopter landing rights on their headland an hour north of Auckland have been abandoned, the application said.
In 2019, the Herald reported the couple had paid $12 million for the 9ha headland.
The North Shore couple's plans are open for submissions till Monday due to having restricted discretionary aspects to the scheme.
The Fishers' land is the only vehicle accessway to the urupā and local marae at Waikowhai/Little Ōmaha. Iwi have access rights over the Fishers' site.
Annie Baines [Ngāti Wai], chair of Ōmaha Marae Trust which administers the freehold Māori land beside the Fishers' place, said her tūpuna were buried in the urupā, which was originally accessed via sea, with tūpāpaku hauled up from below via a tree.
Her grandmother once owned the accessway to the marae and urupā "but in the 80s we got rated off the land. They sold it for $60,000", she said.
The trust backed the plans and the relationship between the two was excellent.
"We have no problems with Hugh or Carmel. They have taken us for a walk around their property. We are in contact quite often. It's correct that the roadway does belong to them but we keep in contact quite a lot. If we have tangi, they stop work. They are very respectful," she said.
But Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust, chaired by Mook Hohneck, is concerned about discharge and proximity to the urupā. The trust's rohe goes from Bream Tail/Mangawhai to the north to the Okura river mouth south of Whangaparāoa and includes the development land.
"A cultural values assessment prepared by iwi [raised] issues, some of which have been addressed by amendments made, while others are, from an iwi perspective, unresolved," the Fishers' application to the council acknowledges.
The site is at the end of Ōmaha Block Access Rd on a headland looking towards Leigh.
Carmel Fisher, who has been called a "trailblazer" in the finance world, told the Herald she didn't want to comment on the application "because we don't have a resource consent, it's very early". But she indicated she had confidence in the plans and opportunities for visitors to stay.
High-end luxury visitor accommodation is planned and one local said there was talk "that people like George Clooney would be coming to stay".
Planning and management consultants Lane Associates said consent was sought for luxury accommodation for 22 guests with a tennis court and swimming pool and duty manager residence.
The main accommodation building will have six guest suites with en suites, lounge spaces, kitchen and restaurant with a basement room and level one, accessed via a lift.
Four suites will be in a separate building with a shared kitchen, dining, living and library spaces. The aim is that four couples could have this entire building for maximum privacy. Covered balconies are planned.
An individual secluded unit for one couple is also planned as the most expensive accommodation.
A laundry and separate manager's accommodation to provide 24-hour on-site service is also planned.
Another accommodation block which might be the Fishers' own place is also proposed.
A pavilion is proposed as shelter alongside a tennis court and that building will have bathroom and toilets, outdoor entertaining areas, dining and socialising zones.
No images were provided of the plans but designs will be "striking but simple" using concrete, glass and stone.
Road access is being upgraded and a new bridge is under construction, the Lane report said.
On-site undercover parking for guest and lodge service vehicles is planned too.
A swimming pool and spa pools, gym, sauna and massage facilities are also planned.
"Essentially, the lodge has been designed to offer a very private and self-contained luxury accommodation experience that takes advantage of the site's ambience of peace and tranquillity within a spectacular coastal setting'," said the application from Lane.
The boundary alongside the marae and urupā will be planted with tall-growing species including titoki, nikau and kohuhu to provide more privacy between the sites.
In 2017, Carmel Fisher sold out of Fisher Funds, now manager of $13b-plus and with more than 250,000 investors.
Consultants Geometria said the Fisher land was the site of the traditionally sacred tree and is a traditional site of high significance to Ngāti Manuhiri, according to the archaeological assessment.
Many aspects of the proposal do not comply with planning regulations. Visitor accommodation is discretionary and the land is zoned rural, having been farmed for many years.
But new buildings will generally be developed near the footprints of the existing buildings, Lane argued.
The Danish Society owns a 7ha site neighbouring the Fisher land and has its Valhalla coastal retreat there.
Lane said the land was zoned rural but buildings would be located so as to "respect the coastal character" of the site.