Current endeavours to clear a massive debt over the Matauri X Incorporation are straight out of dream world. This from the major shareholders of the incorporation regarding an application before the Māori Land Court to change the status of the lands so they're more attractive to prospective buyers.
A big problem they say is that the high debt levels have skyrocketed tenfold under the court-initiated administration.
It's a million dollar view from the marae of Ngāti Kura, but that could be all that's left to them if their lands are lost.
Dover Samuels a major shareholder says, “it's about whether the mortgage has a priority in law over the right of the indigenous shareholders to their ancestral lands.That's the crux of the issue presently before the court.”
12 years ago, shareholders were ignorant of the fact that the Māori Land Court had registered a mortgage of $2.5mil over their lands to pay for a failed water company.
Following this, a committee of shareholders negotiated a lease with the neighbouring Kauri Cliffs millionaire which would've cleared the $2.5 million mortgage but the Māori Land Court wouldn't approve it. Since then, the debt has risen to $25 million under the court-appointed administrator.
The administrator has now resigned and the judge who appointed him has retired, leaving the matter in the hands of the receivership company which has applied to change the status of over 80 sections to freehold to make them more attractive to buyers because in all the years to date, not one section has been sold.
If the debts aren't repaid, over 600 hectares of ancestral land in Matauri will be lost.