Mighty River Power has given the Crown three weeks to consider making a formal offer for two Ruakaka sites it has included in sale plans opposed by Whangarei hapu Patuharakeke.
The Crown informed Waitangi Tribunal presiding officer Judge Craig Coxhead last week it had made a non-binding expression of interest to buy two of the seven blocks of Ruakaka industrial land covering 166ha - including the sites of the now removed old Marsden A and B power stations -which Mighty River Power is selling because they are surplus to requirements.
Earlier this year Patuharakeke applied for an urgent tribunal hearing to stop the sale, saying it would lead to the loss of potential redress of land with cultural significance to the hapu. Patuharakeke wants land taken under the Public Works Act for power generation purposes.
The former power station sites are among the few land blocks in the area not in private ownership that could possibly be returned to the hapu, which now has virtually no land after it was taken by previous governments.
Judge Coxhead said the Crown had told the tribunal its expression of interest in the two blocks was so both could be landbanked for future Treaty settlement.
The Crown said the two blocks were the only ones among the seven for sale which carried 27B memorials signifying they could potentially be returned or compensated for in Treaty settlements.
The Crown had been asked if it would agree not to sell the land before the Patuharakeke application was determined, but it has told the tribunal it would be unable to give an undertaking the sale would not proceed as it didn't own the land.
Judge Coxhead has given Patuharakeke until today to respond to the Crown submissions.
Mighty River Power Ltd was founded as a state-owned enterprise but partially privatised a year ago with the Government retaining 51.78 per cent and the remaining 48.22 per cent listed on the stock market.