175ha south of Te Arai Pt will become reserve in exchange for right to create 58 house sites if council agrees.

An iwi plans to give 175ha of coastal land to Auckland Council in return for the right to create and sell 58 upmarket housing sites.

Ngati Manuhiri announced today its scheme for part of its 700ha Mangawhai South Forest, after it struck a deal with golf course developer and investor John Darby of Queenstown.

The iwi bought the land north of Auckland as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement and now it intends to give the 175ha just south of Te Arai Pt to the council for a new regional park in return for the housing plan.

The news follows Te Uri o Hau's gift of 200ha of nearby land to the council in 2013.


Ngati Manuhiri's project is very similar to Te Uri o Hau's: both iwi have worked with Darby, both have struck reserve-for-housing deals, both are working on treaty settlement land, both blocks are in uneconomic forestry and they are near each other.

If the new reserve is approved, a 15km stretch of coastline could be in public reserve, including the Department of Conservation's Mangawhai Wildlife Refuge.

Mook Hohneck, chief executive of the Ngati Manuhiri's settlement and operational trust, said the reserve and housing plans were a positive alternative to the current forestry land use, which was neither economically nor environmentally sustainable.

The iwi said it had formed a joint venture with New Zealand Land Fund investor and its director, Darby.

Hohneck indicated nothing had been decided yet. "[The] plan is currently being considered by the Auckland Council through the Unitary Plan process, including consultation with their pan-tribal membership and local community groups."

No resource consent has been applied for to create the housing sites.

Mace Ward, the council's general manager of parks, sport and recreation, said nothing was decided yet.

The Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel was now considering evidence of the submission from the joint venture partners for the development, he said.

That meant the council could not officially comment further.

"At Te Arai there is potential for a 15 km stretch of beachfront parkland on Auckland's northeast coast with opportunities to protect significant coastal environment," Ward said. "If this proposal progresses to the next stage via the unitary plan process and this land is confirmed as public open space, it will be subject to the Regional Parks Management Plan which includes the opportunity for the public to provide input."

As part of the Te Uri o Hau scheme, 46 sites for multi-million dollar homes have been created around Tara Iti Golf Club on the coastline, north of the Ngati Manuhiri land.

Tara Iti has been called one of the world's top new golf clubs, designed by American Tom Doak and built on former pine-covered sand.

Darby and Te Uri o Hau united to develop the scheme for the 616ha land where a mix of 200ha of coastal reserve, the 46 house sites and the golf course are the outcome.