New Zealand's largest construction company might sell a controversial Auckland site if the right offer was made, with a boss saying the business is open to approaches from prospective buyers.
Steve Evans, chief executive of NZX-listed Fletcher Building's residential and development division, said no serious offers had been made on the Māngere land at Ihumātao but he did not rule out considering options for the site where Māori land protesters are trying to stop development.
"We have not obtained any offers which we have verified as serious and that we could take forward. Like any of our land sites, we would always be open to offers which valued the land at or above what we thought was its value," Evans said.
Auckland Council values Fletcher's site at 545 Oruarangi Rd at $36m, being $35.7m in land alone.
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Fletcher plans 480 homes on its 33ha site at 545-561 Oruarangi Rd beside the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve near Auckland Airport.
But the plans are strongly opposed by Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) which has been trying to stop Fletcher for some years.
SOUL members staged a protest outside Fletcher's annual meeting at Eden Park late last year, spoke out against the business in that meeting and plans a series of events to raise the profile of its grievances.
This Friday, SOUL plans a day of action at Fletcher's offices in Auckland.
"This action will be targeting Fletcher Building Limited who bought the land at Ihumātao and are planning to start construction soon. Fletcher's must urgently stop all plans for this land, and instead return it to mana whenua," SOUL said of the planned morning event.
"As Fletcher's seem to be having trouble knowing what being a good treaty partner looks like, we'll be inviting them to a free Tiriti o Waitangi workshop at their premises in Penrose. Together, we'll be learning more about Te Tiriti, singing some waiata and sharing some kai for breakfast," SOUL said.
Pania Newton of SOUL said the Ihumātao land had originally been confiscated and the Crown had not addressed that "because the land has been privately held since it was granted to a settler farming family."
Tomorrow at 3.40pm, SOUL is also staging a public Unions Auckland hui at 30 Ihumātao Quarry Rd.
SOUL supporters Tim McCreanor, of Westmere who is a social scientist at Massey University and Frances Hancock, of Mangere Bridge who contributes to local community and environmental initiatives said the development threatens the heritage of one of the oldest continuously occupied settlements in the country.
"Polynesians arrived on this small peninsula in the Manukau Harbour at the beginning of human settlement on these islands. They cleared land, raised families and prospered. Their descendants are among those now living in what is arguably Auckland's oldest suburb," they said.
Evans says Auckland desperately needs more houses and last year's Environment Court decision allowed the business to start building, which it plans to this year.
"Work will begin in 2019," Evans said last week.
"We now have permission to start. We'll build close to 1000 houses this year. The court decision is just," Evans said in November of the court case where the protesters lost their action to stop Fletcher.
Fletcher's half-year result for the six months to December 31, 2018 will be released next week. The business has a market capitalisation of $4.3b and its shares were trading on Friday around $5.04, having gained from last week's $4.93.
Arie Dekker of First NZ Capital said Fletcher was likely to pay a 30c/share dividend for the year to June 30, 2019 and the payout would be skewed to the second half after the US$840 million sale of Formica has settled.
Fletcher said when it announced the Formica sale that it would resume paying dividends from the first-half payout this year. Fletcher's last payout was the final dividend of 19cps for its 2017 financial year when it paid out 39 cents in total.