Ngati Whatua o Orakei is working on big plans for 230 residential properties on 25ha of Auckland, spread throughout the North Shore's Bayswater and Belmont areas.
As part of the Treaty settlement process, the iwi bought surplus Defence Force land, including the 4.2ha vacant Wakakura Block on the Lake Rd/Ngataringa Rd corner overlooking Ngataringa Bay.
Although nothing obvious has happened since last year's settlement because the navy leases the properties until 2018, iwi executives are working on extensive plans so they are ready when the term of the lease expires.
Many of the sections of about 800sq m have three-bedroom 1950s and 1960s weatherboard houses built originally for navy staff but Ngarimu Blair, Ngati Whatua board member, said this was not the best use of the land.
"We would like flexibility across the sites to create mixed diverse housing from standalone houses to townhouses and apartments," Blair said.
Rob Hutchison, chief executive of the iwi's finance arm, Whai Rawa, with $300 million of assets, said extensive planning was under way across the iwi's peninsula land.
Ngati Whatua wants to build far more intensively than the draft Unitary Plan would allow and Hutchison wants Auckland Council to allow more building on such big land holdings.
"We haven't yet decided what we will build on the land. But as we work through this we want the chance to make the most of the options we have," he wrote in the Herald in April.
"We may look at apartment developments, we may not. Either way, we do not think it is fair, or in Auckland's interest, for any landowner to be restricted by an arbitrary 'one-size-fits-all' model."
Asked about plans for Bayswater and Belmont this month, Hutchison said such big holdings presented many opportunities.
"Ngati Whatua o Orakei is working on plans for the surplus Defence Force land. At this stage there are a number of options," he said. "We are working closely with the Auckland Council and have built a good relationship with them, particularly on planning.
"We are also working with the navy, who we want to see looked after in the Devonport area. The navy is an important part of the community and NWO is keen to provide housing options for the defence force."
That issue was raised at a Belmont community meeting to discuss the draft plan a few weeks ago when locals decried the council's plans to designate Belmont's town centre and some surrounding streets for terrace and apartment housing.
"Currently a number of young navy members have to live outside of the Devonport area and commute into work, this is putting pressure on traffic and it is unfortunate that they can't live close to where they work," Hutchison said.
"NWO wants to provide diverse housing options to cater from the young [to] the elderly. The navy are therefore very important partners in our planning," he said. "One of the options we are looking at would mean a redevelopment on the surplus land at Bayswater/Belmont.
"However, exactly what that looks like has not been decided."
Both Hutchison and Blair referred to the area's three ferry services at Devonport, Bayswater and Stanley Bay.
Blair said: "There are plenty of good ferry services in the Devonport area so I would think those would be progressively improved and people encouraged to use ferries and there's major Lake Rd improvements to improve public transport."
Ngati Whatua's Bayswater and Belmont land, North Shore
Alamein Ave/Montgomery Ave
Birchfield Rd/Francis St
Corella Rd/Egremont St
Potter Ave/Ko St/Greenslade Cres
Hilary Cres/Eversleigh Rd/Love St
Roberts Ave/Plymouth Cres
Wakakura Cres/Ngataringa Rd
Source: Ngati Whatua Orakei Agreement in Principal