The huge potential of one of Wellington's prime waterfront sites Shelly Bay on Miramar peninsula is finally being unlocked.
The former air force base is to be bought as part of a Waitangi Treaty settlement deal by the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust. Chairman Ngatata Love confirmed the purchase yesterday.
The 4.5-hectare block, occupied by the Defence Force for the past century, has been eyed by developers and Wellington City Council for decades.
Its future has been up in the air since 1995 when it was closed as an air force base and put up for disposal by the Defence Force.
A few of the buildings on the base have been kept in temporary use but much of it is dilapidated. The council owns a strip of land and buildings on the seaward side of the base.
The site is understood to be valued at more than $10 million, though the purchase price has not been disclosed. Professor Love would not be drawn yesterday on what the trust might do with its new acquisition, saying it had no immediate development plans but "all options will be considered".
He appreciated there was a lot of interest in Shelly Bay and the new owners "will work with all relevant communities so that, over time, everyone in the greater Wellington region will benefit from this settlement".
Enterprise Miramar Peninsula chairman Allan Probert said the plans for the area would "generally turn it into a place where people can go and enjoy the coast. It will be strongly community focused. It really will be a jewel in the crown of Wellington".
Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast said she believed that the iwi were "perfect partners" with the city because of their long-term interest in land-holding, economic development and education.
"When we had initial discussions over Shelly Bay they were keen to understand what the city and community hopes were for that site."
The community made it clear that the land should have mixed use a potential mix of housing, shopping and commercial, with large tracts of it being kept green.
Shelly Bay was one of several properties offered back as part of this year's $25 million settlement by the Crown of historic Treaty claims to Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika, who occupied most of Wellington at the time of early European settlement.
The settlement, which included an apology by the Crown, is for breaches of the 1839 Port Nicholson Block land sale in which much of Wellington was sold to the New Zealand Company.
The deed was flawed and promises were never kept.
The Crown, which took over the block in 1941, failed to set aside one 10th of the land for Maori as required, took land for public purposes without compensation and locked up remaining Maori land in perpetual leases.
- The Dominion Post