Cricket protest threat

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 11:25 08/01/2014

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Waitara lease holders angry at skyrocketing ground rent increases intend to disrupt all three of New Plymouth's Cricket World Cup qualifying matches at Pukekura Park next week.

The three ICC one-day matches involve cricketing minnows Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Uganda and the Netherlands and will be held on the 13, 16 and 19 January.

An email sent to the Taranaki Daily News last night from an email previously used by lease holder Eric Williams, stated lease holders planned to meet at the New Plymouth District Council Civic Centre on the mornings of the matches. 

They would then march the 350 metres up Liardet St to the cricket ground and disrupt the games. 

Mr Williams could not be contacted today. 

A small group of about 50 lease holders held a protest march in December and have they have previously threatened to march on the city's cricket matches.

They say their actions are in protest of what they see as unfairly high ground rents for their leasehold land in Waitara. 

Ground rents on leasehold properties are reassessed every 21 years. Rentals being set right now are about $4000 a year, up from about $400 to $500.

 Administered by the New Plymouth District Council, Mayor Andrew Judd has said the ground rents are set by an independent valuer. 

He said the council is powerless to change the rents as Waitara's leasehold properties are currently on offer to Te Atiawa to form part of their Treaty of Waitangi settlement and nothing can be done that might alter the value of the properties. 

Te Atiawa are expected to make a decision regarding the properties in March. 

The lease holder group was inspired to march on the cricket matches after a similar threat by Waitara residents to march on New Plymouth's Rugby World Cup matches in 2011 appeared to motivate the council to bring forward the construction of the long awaited Waitara sewerage pipeline. Entry to next week's one-day cricket matches is free.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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