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Trust says golf grass will be greener

PETRICE TARRANT
Last updated 05:00 05/11/2012

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Dargaville & Districts

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Development of a world class golf course will have positive benefits for Te Uri O Hau Settlement Trust and the Mangawhai community.

The trust, in joint venture with Te Arai Coastal Lands, has negotiated for an 18-hole links course to be built at the northern end of its 616 hectare forest between Pakiri and Mangawhai.

It's been 10 years since the trust acquired the forest in its 2002 treaty settlement and after a "halo of opposition" there are now definite plans for its future, chief executive Deborah Harding says.

Los Angeles financier Ric Kayne and his wife, Suzanne, have bought the 230 hectares that will be used for the course and tree felling has started.

World-renowned golf course architect Tom Doak will design the course.

Mangawhai Golf Club manager Steve Hinton says it could be a positive move for the their club.

"It's a resort course, so from a competitive angle it shouldn't have an impact on us," he says. "It could have a spin off and people will start visiting the area and if we're lucky . . . come here for a second game."

Te Arai plans to develop 45 lots on some of the remaining land, rather than the 1400 lot subdivision proposed in 2005.

Mrs Harding says there are three main points of opposition: disruption to endangered native shorebirds, the increase in residential dwellings and foreign ownership.

But she says the Crown refused an offer of sale and no New Zealand buyers emerged.

Mr Kayne has agreed to extensively replant the area and establish a conservation trust.

The project is estimated to inject an initial $5.9 million into the local economy, with follow-up contributions tipped at $3.5 million a year.

The spin-offs for Mangawhai will be big, Mrs Harding says, creating more than 30 jobs.

"We are trying really hard as a hapu to create something," she says.

Mrs Harding says the settlement trust always intended to undertake a commercial development and the sale has allowed it to buy two other farms, comprising close to 600 hectares.

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- Dargaville News

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