Ngai Tahu sells 1345-hectare station to Americans

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Kia ora whanau. Te Waahi o Facebook lit up with astonishment today as it was revealed that Ngai Tahu Property sold its 1345-hectare Kaikoura station Rakanui to a Californian couple for $7.5 million.

Ngai Tahu Property general manager Tony Sewell is quoted as saying the company had decided to sell the land because it was moving out of large-scale lifestyle developments.

The following korero comes from The Marlborough Express (LJANA SLIGO AND FAIRFAX)

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/4528827/Ngai-Tahu-ticks-off-7-5m-property-deal

Margaret Elisabeth Hyde, a children’s author, and her energy trader husband, Chris Gough, have also bought the neighbouring 438ha Kahutara Downs from a Christchurch syndicate for $3.48 million.

The syndicate is made up of David and Jacqueline Pritchard, Brian Fitzgerald Interests, Phillip Burmester, David Smallbone and Evan More.

The stations are 10 kilometres south of Kaikoura, and sit above State Highway 1 and the main trunk railway line; the Kahutara River runs through Rakanui.

The couple want to merge the two properties, improve the farming operations, plant a sustainable forest and implement an ecological restoration programme.

Their application to buy the properties was approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) late last year.

Ngai Tahi Property originally planned to turn Rakanui into a residential farm park containing 64 sections of 0.5ha each.

A hearing on the proposal, which was opposed, was held in 2007, and approval was granted.

Speaking from the couple’s Santa Monica home last night, Mr Gough said they had been attracted to Kaikoura as it was “a lot like where we live just less people”. His business brought him to Southeast Asia and Australasia often.

“The primary focus is to regenerate indigenous bush and to participate in your carbon scheme. We want to restore the land to natural growth.”

He said the farm was their first purchase in New Zealand, and they had no immediate plans to move here.

Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray said the sale of Rakanui was a good thing for the community, the land and the economy.

“It’s the best possible use for that land. The money that has been achieved is way beyond farming values.

“These people are looking at the best use for that land. In reality it has never been an economically sustainable farm, it has only been sustainable when subsidies were available,” he said.

He understood the couple planned to restore the land’s natural values while pastoral farming the parts that are productive.

“Other people see different values, the pristine environment and Kaikoura as a place to be.”

Mr Gray said the couple would bring money into New Zealand and create employment as they planned to fence, plant and develop the land.

Rural property prices would not be hugely affected by the sale, he said.

“It’s seen as an iconic property, not as a rural farm. It’s what we call a `one-off’ but it is very encouraging for the area.”

Ngai Tahu Property general manager Tony Sewell said the company had decided to sell the land because it was moving out of large-scale lifestyle developments.

“It’s not been a success, so we will put the money into the things we do best.”

He said the land was bought in 2006 and the company had received a price it was “pretty happy” with.

Peketa resident Richard Hailes, who opposed the Ngai Tahu proposal, said he was pleased the couple did not plan a residential development on the land.

“Good on them, but they will have their hands full,” said Mr Hailes.

“This is tough country and in a big weather event, it is a moveable thing,” he said.

He applauded the couple’s environmental principles.

Ms Hyde and her family founded the Hyde Family Foundation, which focuses on education reform and creating healthy neighbourhoods.

Concerns from Maori were immediate.

Lawyer Annette Sykes had this to say:

“Call me old fashioned but I grew up beleiving that our lands was the life force of our futures. I was brought up on stories of where lands were sold by necessity to pay rates or Pakeha bills at the store but never to sell land for a profit…. Leasing was the mantra of our childhood and holding on to land was what bound the family together. I am struggling with this at a time where I argue around the fact land is a taonga and when I see things like this occurring wonder if the process of commodification has so undermined our values that we will no longer be able to call ourselves tangata whenua but tangata… only Process of assimiliation, disconnection, colonisation complete…”

Here were a range of other comments:

That’s disgusting! Hope Ngai Tahu Property enjoy their “Blankets and Muskets” because in the long run that’s all that precious 7.5million is worth!

Personally i don’t think its ever alright to sell Maoriland. To pay the bills or for profit!

Chur neat alright get them a mean cars and a mean feeds, bling out the crib, greenstone rims, twirly wirlys on everyones arms!! = MUD

Another thing that really stinks too about this Annette, is that they only got 7.5 million bucks for it. Shit, a block of land at Manaia on the Coromandel of five hundred acres went for over 10 million and that was through a private sale. What accountability does Ngai Tahu have to its people, they’ve been severely ripped off. So much for looking after the tribes future – Yeah right!

So, though this was considered a private sale, the implications for Maori across the country seem to suggest that it was not a good move. What do you think? Should Maori corporations be able to sell Maori land? Please post your thoughts below.

3 COMMENTS

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    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/

  2. Teenaa koutou katoa

    What I find most disturbing about this tale is that Ngai Tahu were intenfing to subdivide the whenua for urban development, that is to turn the whenua into lifestyle properties – plans vigorously opposed by locals with environment in mind. They have since sold the whenua to an American couple who intend to nurture the land back into indigenous flora and fauna.

    As Taangata Whenua, Ngai Tahu should have taken that task on as a responsibility and commitment. I applaud the American couple for taking on a role that Ngai Tahu have clearly abdicated in pursuit of their new god – money.

  3. Well if you read the article it was crap land to start with – They can use the money to buy land suitable for chiefs. Tangata whenua doesnt they have to make do with the leftovers -Annette is riding a high horse.

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