Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has lent his support to save a Black Power stronghold from being demolished because the gang pad caters for the "spiritual and cultural needs" of Maori.

The MP wrote to the Auckland City Council asking staff to ignore illegal structures on the Mt Wellington property - which was the hub of a $1.5 million cannabis ring - and to grant a waiver for breaches of the district plan.

The Black Power headquarters was seized and sold under the Proceeds of Crime Act to a new owner, who was in negotiations to sell the property to a trust connected to Dr Sharples' Tamaki Makarau electorate manager.

In the letter, the Maori Affairs Minister said he attended a hui at the Black Power headquarters in 2005 with Tariana Turia as co-leaders of the Maori Party.

The pair were welcomed into the house through a formal powhiri and the meeting was conducted in accordance with tikanga (protocol).

Writing under the Maori Party letterhead in March, Dr Sharples said a staff member had told him about the resource consent issues with sections of the "whare" at 25 Jolson Rd.

"I can confirm that the large room in the middle of the house was set up as a wharenui [meeting house] and as such provided for the hui that we were present at to be conducted in much the same way as if at a marae."

Dr Sharples said there was also a large area where a feast took place after the meeting and "the whare catered for the spiritual and cultural needs of our hui".

"As the local member of Parliament for Tamaki Makarau I have no hesitation in supporting the application to consider a waiver to the resource consents compliance on the grounds that this house has been utilised for cultural occasions and events."

Dr Sharples could not be reached for comment last night.

A second letter released by the council was written by Dr Sharples' electorate manager, Martin Cooper.

He said he was the previous owner of the property under the name of the Piki Mai Trust, of which he was the founding chairman and chief executive. The trust was established to run vocational training programmes and the property became a drop-in centre for the community to use, he said.

"We saw it as our contribution back to the community, hence the name Piki Mai, meaning to rise and lift up those in need," wrote Mr Cooper. "I hope you can appreciate the spiritual and cultural significance of the property to Maori people in the area."

The new owner also wrote to Mayor John Banks and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide to complain about how the council was enforcing the district plan - after the council ignored the breaches when Black Power was the owner.

In a third letter released by the council, the owner said Black Power president Mark Pitman had introduced him to Mr Cooper, who had "been very helpful in trying to help me out with my situation".

"Realistically due to the situation I find myself in, I will be selling the property to a Maori trust ... over the next couple of months."

The sale never went through.

The property had previously been the hub of a cannabis ring masterminded by Pitman which was turning over $1.5 million a year.

Covert surveillance revealed an average of 175 sales of cannabis a day at a neighbouring property. Police calculated the gang was earning about $3500 a day there. Hidden cameras on a second, linked "tinnie house" on Massey Rd showed on average 55 vehicles arriving a day, which was estimated to earn the gang an extra $400,000 a year.

Pitman was later convicted and the Mt Wellington property seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act and sold by the Official Assignee in January for $245,000.

The confiscation of the Black Power pad was hailed as significant by police late last year, as Parliament pushed through the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Bill.

The new law gives police even more powers to seize assets purchased with the profits of crime.

A Herald investigation last month revealed that gang members were again living in the two-level house despite it being confiscated and sold.

WHO'S WHO
* Mark Pitman, president of Black Power: His gang pad was confiscated after he was convicted of running a $1.5 million cannabis ring.
* Pita Sharples, Maori Affairs Minister: Asked Auckland City Council not to demolish the Mt Wellington headquarters.
* Martin Cooper, Dr Sharples' electorate manager: Original owner, who sold to Pitman. Introduced to new owner by Pitman as the man who could negotiate a sale (the deal did not go through).