A confederation of iwi has opposed plans for a cafe at the Officers' Mess at Fort Takapuna, stating its interest in the area for future treaty settlements.
This comes despite earlier assurances from Treaty Settlements Minister, Chris Finlayson, that the historic site would be not available to iwi for redress.
A spokesman for Minister Finlayson's office confirms that the Marutuahu confederation has stated their interest in the area but says nothing is finalised.
"Crown negotiations with Marutuahu have started and it is too early to say what might or might not be included in a settlement package."
Paul Majurey on behalf of the Marutuahu confederation of Ngati Rongou, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Whanaunga, Ngati Maru and Ngati Paoa, opposed the Department of Conservation's intent to grant a 10 year lease for the Officers' Mess building.
In April this year Mr Majurey spoke in support of the Crown's controversial decision to include 3.2 hectares of neighbouring defence force land as commercial redress in the Ngati Whatua o Orakei treaty settlement.
His opposition to the cafe concession is on the grounds that the Crown is in direct negotiations over the Fort Takapuna area and therefore it would be inappropriate to grant the concession.
However DOC officer Darcy Liddell responded saying that "to date there is no agreement in principle or other public ‘milestone' document between the Crown and iwi relating to the Fort Takapuna historic reserve resulting from Treaty negotiations."
Mr Liddell therefore found that it was not appropriate to decline the application on the basis of Treaty settlement negotiations. Mr Majurey requested a hearing before the Director General which was held on July 16.
Details of this hearing are being kept confidential.
A background report from DOC shows it has been a priority of the department to find a suitable party to run the officers' mess as a cafe and functions venue for several years.
An open tender process was carried out in early 2010 which was unsuccessful but in 2011 the department was approached by several parties interested in applying for a concession to use the officers' mess.
Concession was granted to the newly formed Officers' Mess Ltd, led by directors Jeremy Schmid and Fiona Bias.
Mr Schmid is a chef who owns and operates Two Fifteen bistro and wine bar in Mt Eden.
Mrs Bias grew up in Devonport and is a primary school teacher.
A decision on the hearing is due by the end of August.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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