Urgent Waitangi Tribunal to stop the sale of Shelly Bay for development
An eleventh hour bid to stop the sale of Shelly Bay has been slammed as naive by the trust under attack.
Beneficiaries of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) filed documents for an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing on Tuesday morning but PNBST chairman Neville Baker said the group did not understand the Waitangi Tribunal process.
Last week the trust confirmed it had entered a joint venture with the Wellington Company, the property development company of Ian Cassels, just months after its thousands of members voted down a different proposal with the same company.
The commercial terms of the deal will depend on resource consent. However, the trust is believed to be poised to receive a payment in the order of $5 million to $7 million.
Baker said the commercial board acted within the terms of its deed, and a membership vote on the transaction was not required.
"I am extremely disappointed by the actions of the small number of members publicly claiming to file papers with the Waitangi Tribunal," Baker said.
Shelly Bay was not part of PNBST's settlement and was bought later, he said.
"Not only do these individuals obviously not understand good tribal governance, but also clearly have no understanding of the jurisdiction and process of the Waitangi Tribunal."
Taranaki Whānui members knew that PNBST had been losing money since its settlement in 2009 and had been a drain on the trust's balance sheet, he said.
"My fellow trustees and I, together with the commercial board led by Toa Pomare, have turned this around and our just released annual report shows the trust group's first profit.
"Our actions as people elected to manage the affairs of the trust are transparent – as is the statement that we are on track to continue to grow the trust's assets."
Continued negativity, led by Dr Catherine Love and Kara Dr Puketapu, follows hard on the heels of Sir Ngatata Love being found guilty of defrauding the Wellington Tenths Trust and prior to his sentencing on October 6, he said.
"It is politics at its worst, ahead of the trust's election on October 15. This small group is critical, but at the same time is making no positive suggestions for the betterment of our members.
What this small group is doing flies in the face of that, the fact that we have solid governance in place."
The PNBST had indicated it will pursue Sir Ngatata Love and his partner Lorraine Skiffington in relation to other transactions of the trust when Love was chairman, including possibly through courts.
"PNBST will be pursuing debts it is owed – and it will be interested to see if the Wellington Tenths Trust, under the chairmanship of Morrie Love, does the same for the benefit of its members."
On Tuesday morning when the Waitangi Tribunal opened, Puketapu, Catherine Love, Hirini Jenkins-Mepham, were there to lodge their claim.
The Tribunal was now considering the application.
Before delivering the documents, Love alleged the Trust was trying to sell the land by "stealth" and without the authority of its members.
The Waitangi Tribunal documents said the matter covered Maori ownership and rights, including the right to meaningful consultation in relation to proposed developments at Omarukaikuru/Shelly Bay, Wellington.
It alleges the Crown breached Treaty of Waitangi rights through its special housing accord legislation.
Puketapu, the chairman of the Te Ātiawa Tribal Council, which claims to represent the interests of Te Ātiawa and Taranaki Whānui people, said the concerns of Te Atiawa members had been expressed at numerous meeting after they were told Shelly Bay was at risk of being sold through a commercial venture being developed by the PNBST Trustees.
"We need the truth today - not fanciful statements of promises around joining the business world or comments and actions that would not defend our land from being lost again.
"We gave our commitment to the Crown when they agreed to sell back to us our land at Shelly Bay where our tupuna blood and mokopuna afterbirth rest to this day."
The specific details of the Shelly Bay deal must immediately be provided to the owners by Baker and assurances given that ownership of the Shelly Bay land would not be risked in any way, he said.
The trustees would be challenged by the owners at the Annual General Meeting in three weeks-time, he said.