Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has put "on hold" a partly-build new apartment block at its Eastcliffe retirement village facing Bastion Point in Auckland, citing coronavirus for the decision.
Whai Rawa chief executive Andrew Crocker said work on the apartment block - which was to replace 33 units which had to be demolished - had been stopped part-way into construction.
"The board has taken the difficult decision to place the redevelopment of Eastcliffe on hold for the foreseeable future," he said. "No one could have foreseen the Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts."
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa had re-assessed its business operations and examined how to cope with the current and anticipated economic downturn. The board had considered the most prudent course to protect the long-term interests of the hapū, he said.
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He acknowledged "all that our Eastcliffe residents have been through" and said this was the last thing the business expected or wanted.
"The decision to place the project on hold was made during the lockdown in response to the current and anticipated economic downturn as a result of the pandemic. Prior to lockdown, we had contracted NZ Strong to construct the first of four apartment buildings for the redevelopment," he said.
The builder started in January and had made progress on the site preparation works including environmental controls, earthworks and retaining walls, Crocker said.
The residents who are affected by the decision have been contacted and all other residents at Eastcliffe have also been informed, he said.
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In 2018, Ngāti Whātua announced plans for a new 30-unit apartment block to replace the demolished faulty 33 residences in six blocks dogged by leak, fire and seismic issues. Then, the 34 affected residents were temporarily relocated in other homes within the village or in eastern bays rental properties at Whai Rawa's expense.
But last winter, the Herald reported how buyers had started High Court action against the Ngāti Whātua, claiming more than $16 million.
Twelve residents aged between 77 and 91, whose homes were demolished, claimed breaches of the Fair Trading Act, the Residential Villages Act and the Contracts and Commercial Law Act by four entities associated with owner Ngāti Whātua.
The 12 had bought lifetime occupation licences to townhouses and apartments in six blocks in the village between 2005 and 2015. Of the $16m being claimed, about $9m was to meet the additional costs of buying comparable units in today's market.
Crocker said last year the claims would be vigorously defended.
One of the parties close to that action said today: "It never went to court. It didn't get that far."
That person indicated a settlement had been reached between the parties and matters were resolved. They have now shifted into another retirement village and did not want to say any more.