Waitara Bill Includes Greater Support for Leaseholders

20 June 2016

Greater support for leaseholders will be included in the Bill that goes to Parliament regarding the Council’s Waitara endowment lands. 

The amendments to the proposed Bill were made at today’s (Monday) Council meeting, when Councillors considered the public submissions received.

The two amendments are:

  • Bringing in a one-year transition period during which the price to freehold will be fixed to the unimproved land values from the day the legislation comes into force.
  • Bringing a report to the Council on an administrative package to support leaseholders in the freeholding process, to ensure vulnerable leaseholders are not exploited.

Mayor Andrew Judd says the one-year transition period would give leaseholders some breathing room to make their decisions and arrange finance without concerns over land price inflation.

“I’m proud of what the Council has achieved with this Bill,” says the Mayor.

“It’s not the ultimate solution because everyone has had to make some compromises, but we’re about to remove an issue that has caused angst in Waitara for a very long time.

“But the job’s not over yet. We’ll be submitting this Bill to Parliament and we’ll be lobbying the politicians to make sure this gets through without a hitch.”

Key parts of the draft Bill include:

  • Some land in Waitara will be transferred to Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust, and the trust will have the right of first refusal on other blocks of Waitara land.
  • Leaseholders will receive a right to purchase the freehold title to their property, for the unimproved land value and administrative costs, with no time-limit imposed. The freeholding right will continue even if the lease was sold. Leaseholders who do not exercise this right will be able to continue to rent their land.
  • The funds from the leasehold land – both rents and proceeds from sales – will be put back into the Waitara community as a priority. The money will be divided between both New Plymouth District Council and Taranaki Regional Council, and both councils have committed to investing the money back into the Waitara community.

The Crown’s attempt in 1860 to purchase a large portion of what is modern-day Waitara sparked the first Taranaki War, which led to confiscation of Maori land. The Crown gifted confiscated land to local authorities for the development of a harbour and the township at Waitara. 

Currently NPDC is largely restricted, through the Waitara Harbour Act 1940, to using rental income from the Waitara endowment lands for the prevention of erosion at the Waitara River. This Bill would remove those statutory restrictions and enable rental and sales proceeds to be used for the wider benefit of the Waitara community.