Longer wait for Waitara

00:43, Apr 01 2014

Waitara leaseholders will have to wait another month to find out whether Te Atiawa iwi will be their new landlords. 

Owned and administered by the New Plymouth District Council, the government has agreed to a $23m transfer price for the 780 lease land properties if it is included in Te Atiawa's Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

With the package expected to be finalised in July, a decision on the contentious lease lands was due in March but has now been pushed back to the end of the month.

The Office of Treaty Settlements is expected to comment on their reasons for the extension this afternoon.

Despite that extension Keenan remained confident Te Atiawa would sign a full settlement package by the end of July.

She said the iwi wanted to conclude its settlement by then as they could not be certain of what would happen after the general election in September.

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The lease lands, also known as the endowment lands, are one of the most contentious parts of the iwi's settlement package that also includes the Sugar Loaf Islands and will reportedly be worth as much as $88m.

The residential and industrial leases have long been a headache for council and massive ground rent increases in recent years have sparked protests and widespread anger.

Council has maintained it can do nothing to alter the value of the land while it is under offer to the government and therefore cannot change lease values or move to freehold the land.

However it will reconsider what it does with the land if Te Atiawa declines to take it.

Taranaki Daily News