The keyboards are out in the battle for Shelly Bay with developer Ian Cassels taking on Sir Peter Jackson in an open letter.

Meanwhile, a group within local iwi getting ready to launch a legal challenge over Wellington's Shelly Bay has ramped up its preparation efforts by becoming an incorporated society.

The move signals Mau Whenua is formalising a channel for litigation and any donations to help fund it.

A proposed development at Shelly Bay has been through two court battles and been the subject of scathing emails penned by Jackson.


Cassels responded to the film-maker's latest email last night telling him to "stick to the facts".

Jackson's characterisation of the dealings over Shelly Bay were false, misleading and defamatory, Cassels said.

"The reality is this: the proposal will soon be resubmitted as an application for resource consent. That is the appropriate process within which these issues will be considered and determined.

"However, in any further public comment please refrain from repeating false claims and deliberately using your considerable influence to spread misinformation."

Cassels said he would be happy to meet Jackson at a convenient time "if that would assist".

"Otherwise, should you continue to defame me and my company I will have no option but to respond."

The latest legal question in the saga is not so much over the development itself, but whether iwi-owned land should have been sold to developers in the first place.

Mau Whenua is a group within Taranaki Whānui representing those who voted not to sell the land, those who have reconsidered their position on the sale and no longer support it, and those who say they didn't get a chance to vote in the first place.


They allege the 2017 sale failed to get the necessary support from 75 per cent of iwi members to go ahead.

Mau Whenua was incorporated on April 17 this year, according to the Companies Office.

"Under legal advice, we recently formed an incorporated society as a vehicle to take the legal action on behalf of iwi members," a Mau Whenua spokeswoman said.

The purpose of the group, as listed in its application to incorporate, says it will contribute to the educational, environmental and economic benefits of Taranaki Whānui.

It also says the group will assist Māori, particularly Taranaki Whānui, to hold on to their lands and ensure no land is sold out of tribal ownership without appropriate consultation and agreement of iwi members.

It goes on to say Mau Whenua will take any lawful action that assists members to achieve those objectives.

"Including conducting litigation, raising money for the purposes of funding such litigation, and creating a donations protocol," the document reads.

An artist impression of the proposed development of Shelly Bay South foreshore. Photo / Supplied.
An artist impression of the proposed development of Shelly Bay South foreshore. Photo / Supplied.

Membership is open to members of Taranaki Whānui, their whānau, and others who wish to support the objectives of the society.

The group believes it has a strong case regarding the land sale and legal action is due to begin this month, the Mau Whenua spokeswoman said.

Fresh resource consent for the development of 300 new homes, a boutique hotel and a village green at Shelly Bay is expected to be lodged imminently.

Trustee of Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust Neville Baker said they were at this point with the developer because they had the "authority" to do so.

"We took that plan out to the people and we consulted. The majority of our people agreed that plan was the way forward."

Mau Whenua's allegations were the subject of Jackson's latest Facebook post after he called on New Zealanders to join him in the fight to save Shelly Bay.

The more than 6000-word post landed on Monday night, 10 days after Jackson publicly promised to start sharing correspondence over the Shelly Bay saga.

In the post, Jackson said he had no comment about the legality of the land sale but "morally" couldn't understand how it went ahead when iwi constituents had made their feelings clear.

The move to make Mau Whenua an incorporated society comes after at least $250,000 worth of donations were revealed on the books of Enterprise Miramar, a group that has led both previous court cases over the proposed development at Shelly Bay.

But the names of those bankrolling Enterprise Miramar remain a secret.

Shelly Bay development director Earl Hope-Pearson has previously told the Herald they will keep pushing ahead with their plans, despite the threat of further legal action.

It's a bridge they'll cross when they come to it, he said.