Masterton Lands Trust questioned over sale of historically significant sites
The sale of three properties that have been designated as public assets for about 150 years has been criticised as "short-sighted in the extreme".
Kahungunu ki Wairarapa chairman Nelson Rangi believed the sale of the historic properties by Masterton Trust Lands Trust was not in the best interests of the public.
Rangi, a descendant of Joseph Masters and chief Te Retimana Te Korou, founders of Masterton, questioned whether the sale of the properties was necessary or prudent, considering their historic significance.
The decision to sell was based on a desire for short-term profit to cover unfortunate construction shortcomings elsewhere in the trust's portfolio, he said.
"What an insult to refer to them as 'not of strategic value'. The land these buildings sit on is sacrosanct. The buildings come and go, but the land is forever.
"MLT will buy and sell, and utilise its properties as it sees fit, but my contention is that selling off land which is a specific part of a unique historical past for nearly as long as European jurisdiction in New Zealand is short-sighted in the extreme."
Trust chairwoman Leanne Southey said the board did not take the decision lightly, but took into account several factors when deciding to put the properties up for sale, including the need to manage the finances well and the need to carry out repairs on buildings.
Some of the properties were part of the original land, but they amounted to a small percentage, and the trust would not be selling if the offers received were not good enough, she said.
"We spoke about it at length and put a call out to the public for submissions ...
"I was surprised we received no submissions at all. The only thing we did receive was a letter from Nelson, which outlined his position.
"We need to be able to fix the buildings that need it and [a High Court case in which the trust is involved] is a long way off, so in the meantime the trust has to front up the money for repairs."