Tauranga City Council errors have opened the way for Ngai Tamarāwaho hapu to obtain the Mobil gas station site on Chapel Street at no cost.
The council is currently waiting Department of Conservation approval for the sale, according to documents obtained by retired Mount Maunganui lawyer Rob Paterson under the Freedom of Information Act.
The documents show Ngai Tamarāwaho is offering to take ownership of land and pay for it using the $150,000 a year lease payments made on the Property by Mobil Oil NZ.
The land value is $1.34 million, while improvements are valued at $610,000 giving a capital value $1.95m.
The current lease expires in May 2022, which would see $1.05m paid off by the time the current lease expires. The hapu is offering to pay $1m, and the council is to meet all legal costs.
Hapu spokesman Buddy Mikaere says the offer is in response to ‘shabby’ treatment of the hapu by the Tauranga City Council.
For the past 10 years Ngai Tamarāwaho has discussed with council the acquisition of the Mobil site and two others nearby as part of their Treaty of Waitangi settlement. The hapu had an expectation the Mobil site would return to them as part of their treaty claim following construction of the harbor bridge.
In 2012, council stopped the hapu acquisition process because it wanted the lands under discussion at Dive Crescent and The Strand Extension for the construction of the second harbor bridge, the Dive Crescent off ramp, and for a proposed pipeline across the railway bridge.
Council removed the lands from the Office of Treaty Settlements land bank so they were no longer available for treaty claim settlement. The OTS discussed it with the wrong iwi, and the council failed to correct that, says Buddy in his letter to the council.
As a result of the Ngai Tamarāwaho complaint the city council promised it would find an alternative piece of land, and told the hapu about the Mobil site in 2012. When the hapu accepted, the council instead decided to clarify its whole approach to selling surplus land to iwi.
“The treatment has not been in a manner that would be expected in the light of the treaty relationship that has been established over the years between the hapu and the Tauranga City Council,” says Buddy.
“In this respect we note in particular the highway developments across the hapu rohe (area) and around the Waikareao estuary and the contributions made by the hapu to the cultural life of the city and the CBD in particular.
“The failure to consult with the hapu has been particularly offensive.”
Buddy believes a “generous interpretation” of that treatment would say it was largely due to ignorance, and Ngai Tamarāwaho note in particular the failure of the office of treaty settlements to act without regard for local protocols and custom compounded by failure of due process and administrative error.
The poor performance of the OTS does not in the hapu’s view absolve council’s actions with the 80 Dive Crescent property, he adds.
“We believe that the council was so keen to have a second harbor crossing project succeed, that in putting that project together it chose to overlook the long standing relationship with the hapu for expediency’s sake. Similarly with the council’s precipitate actions concerning the strand extension and the pipeline project.”
Rob Paterson says the situation is secrecy at its worst, because the public isn’t informed and he doubts even elected members have been kept informed.
“Māori interests have presented no evidence of any cultural significance in respect of the site and other than they for some reason felt aggrieved about perceived Dive Crescent and The Strand extension issues no other cogent case for this nonsense is presented.
“The proposal floated by Ngai Tamarāwaho at a discounted price to purchase the site at $1m is a creative Clayton’s offer, no cash will be found, and ownership simply “deferred” for six years with council meeting all associated legal costs.
“I cannot believe council would transfer title until payment in full was received. The proposal as it stands is to the complete detriment of TCC Ratepayers – quite unbelievable in fact,” says Rob.
The city council is awaiting a report on the matter from the Department of Conservation, as the Minister must approve the sale.