Senior Wellington journalist Georgina Campbell today begins a fortnightly column which looks closely at issues in the capital.
It's astounding the number of people who are trying to control what local iwi do on a piece of land purchased with Tiriti o Waitangi settlement money.
That land is Shelly Bay, the jewel of Wellington, where a proposed development including 350 new homes has turned into an absolute fiasco.
Wellington City Council only owns about 10 per cent of the land involved in the plan, creating a vehicle for lobbyists to try and block the development. The rest of the land is privately-owned.
Today city councillors are voting on whether to sell and lease the land it owns for inclusion in the development.
Taranaki Whānui, through the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST), used more than half of its $25 million settlement money to purchase land and properties at Shelly Bay from the NZ Defence Force and Department of Corrections.
The decision ended up being an anchor around the iwi's neck.
Taranaki Whānui found itself asset rich but cash poor and Shelly Bay has sat there rotting ever since it was purchased.
A development proposal in partnership with The Wellington Company presented a way out.
It was an opportunity to get a return on their investment to provide better education, health, housing, and employment for iwi.
But the way that deal worked meant iwi land at Shelly Bay was sold to developer Ian Cassels.
A group within Taranaki Whānui, called Mau Whenua, is challenging whether that land should have been sold to developers at all.
They allege the 2017 land sale failed to get the necessary support from 75 per cent of iwi members to go ahead.
But just because there is division within Taranaki Whānui doesn't mean that all of a sudden everyone else gets to have a say.
It's not the role of a city councillor to decide whether iwi got a fair deal.
The proper place to decide on the validity of the land deal is in the justice system, where a claim has been lodged and is waiting to be heard by the court. It's expected a hearing will take place in March next year.
It's difficult to think of another private development that has got such scrutiny outside of the courtroom.
Filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson for one, who lives nearby, has written a string of emails and letters questioning in immense detail various aspects of the development and the way Wellington City Council handled its part in the matter.
He once described the development as one that "will invoke blocks of Soviet-era apartments dumped on Wellington's picturesque peninsula."
But even consideration of the original resource consent only got to a courtroom setting in the first place because of action led by the Miramar Business Improvement District, which has a usual annual income almost entirely paid from council targeted rates of $80,000.
Shelly Bay isn't even within the BID's boundary and the hundreds of thousands of dollars used for litigation came from unnamed donors.
Although there is disagreement, there also remains a will within some members of iwi to sell the land to Cassels - a man who now has a resource consent to develop.
At a question and answer briefing with officers earlier this week, councillors asked whether they were actually dealing with iwi at all.
To be clear, Cassels owns all the parcels of iwi land earmarked for development at Shelly Bay.
PNBST, as a development partner, is a party to the key commercial terms negotiated for the proposed council land sale and lease agreement.
Selling iwi land was the whole point for Taranaki Whānui leaders at the time, who consider the arrangement was fair despite the majority of land going for a fraction of the cost.
There's no doubt that PNBST was in a dire financial position by the end of 2016, and couldn't have been in a strong bargaining position.
Leaders of the cash-strapped iwi had obligations at the time around the development of four units across the harbour.
They described the sale of three parcels of land as essential to the survival of PNBST.
"We are at a loss to explain why others are so interested in our land … we make no apology for the fact we have had to sell land to ensure that the trust survived," they said in a newsletter to members.
Supporting the right for iwi to develop their land isn't also about questioning what's in it for them, now they have sold it to allow that to happen.
Just as it is not the role of the Treaty Settlement Office to advise iwi on what they do with their settlements once they are negotiated.
Although contentious, the fact remains elected trustees of Taranaki Whānui sold their land to Cassels with the intention it would be developed as outlined in the current resource consent.
It's a will that should be respected until a judicial process has decided otherwise.