Hawaii holiday home for Key

01:43, Jan 31 2009

As the local housing market tightens, John Key buys an apartment in Maui. Political editor Ruth Laugesen reports.

National leader John Key has just got a late Christmas present most New Zealand families being squeezed by soaring interest rates and high prices would envy - a tropical holiday home in Hawaii.

Key confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times he had bought an apartment on the swanky island of Maui at Christmas, with settlement a week ago. He was reluctant to reveal details of its location or what he paid for it.

"You can see the beach," he said.

The holiday home is in addition to one John and Bronagh Key already own at Omaha, an exclusive beach settlement north of Auckland.

But Key, a multi-millionaire, said his luxurious lifestyle would not prevent him from relating to one of the incendiary political issues of the day - the pain ordinary New Zealanders feel as they grapple with soaring petrol prices, high interest rates and sharply rising food prices.

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"It's well known that I have a reasonably well off personal background. It's also well known that I grew up in a state house. So I think I've got my feet pretty firmly on the ground," he said.

Key said he had not declared the property in the Register of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament because it was owned by his family trust, the JP and BI Key Family Trust. While MPs have to declare family trusts, they do not have to declare what the trusts own.

Asked what other properties were owned by the Key family trust, Key said he would need a moment to think. After 20 seconds of silence, Key said the trust owned five properties. Then Key rang back a few minutes later to say he had forgotten a further property owned by the family trust.

Apart from the Hawaiian property, there was an apartment in London used by his niece and four properties in New Zealand. They included a property in Wellington, the family home in Auckland and the Omaha property.

Key said he had sought advice on declaring property in the MPs register several years ago and was told by those administering the register that they did not want "pecuniary interest creep".

"In other words, people declaring all sorts of things when they were in trust, because it's going to lead to everybody listing every asset they own," he said.

Key said he owned a similar number of properties to Prime Minister Helen Clark. She declared five properties - her home in Auckland, a town house in Wellington, an apartment in Christchurch, an investment property in Rodney and a house in the United Kingdom inherited from her father-in-law.

 

MAUI FOR MILLIONAIRES

* The cost of living in Maui is one of the highest in the US and the surfing mecca boasts many multimillion-dollar properties.

* The average property price in Kapalua, one of Maui's premiere resort areas, is $US5 million ($6.35m), Wailea- Makena, another pricey beachfront location, is US$3.3m, while properties in Kaanapali go for $US2.2m.

* The median price for a condo in Maui in March 2008 was $US575,000.

* Maui is the second most developed and the second largest Hawaiian Island at 1885km2. It has a population of 139,884.

Sunday Star Times