Kimberley Centre land on hold again

Last updated 08:03 03/07/2013

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An eleventh-hour land claim has been made by Maori for a former mental health centre near Levin, but the MidCentral District Health Board is pressing on with plans to sell it.

The health board was ready to begin the disposal process of the dilapidated Kimberley Centre, following approval from the Office of Treaty Settlements.

However, a late claim by a Maori whose ancestors lived on the land has brought a potential ownership issue to light.

Board members were disappointed at a meeting yesterday to hear another claim had been lodged so late in the process.

Lindsay Burnell said that it was a "fantastic" block falling into disrepair while the Office of Treaty Settlements assessed the claims - a process that had now been extended.

"I appreciate the rights of the person to do this but it is a little disappointing it's come this late because I thought there had been an appropriate amount of time to have done that," he said.

"The buildings are deteriorating - there is no doubt in my mind that if they aren't burnt down they will subside.

"We just hope it can be resolved quickly one way or another," he said.

The health board was told yesterday that a descendent of one of the 48 former Maori owners awarded the land historically had approached the Land Institute of New Zealand. Members were advised there could be a potential ownership issue, despite the property having gone through landbanking processes.

The board has advised the Ministry of Health of the potential claim, but is proceeding with marketing plans anyway.

There are also two sites of significance claims under consideration at the site.

MidCentral chief executive Murray Georgel said the health board was told the disposal process would be short "but it hasn't turned out that way".

The health board began actions to sell the 46-hectare property, last valued at $4 million, in 2006. Since that time the property has been stuck in landbanking and sites of significance considerations while it has deteriorated and been set on fire.

The health board is also disposing of the defunct Horowhenua Hospital.

The 8ha hospital site was released from protection mechanisms by the Office of Treaty Settlements on June 20.

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- Manawatu Standard

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