Topic: Land

Uproar over Shelly Bay land sell-off worth millions

By Heta Gardiner
  • Wellington

The Port Nicholson Settlement Trust is planning to sell its land at Shelly Bay to a developer, the property is worth millions of dollars.  

But some of the Trust's beneficiaries are furious, and today showed their anger at what they believe is an undemocratic process.

The wind shook and battered their signs, but not their fighting spirit. 

Paora Mepham says, "Two short consultation meetings in the two weeks, or three weeks prior to the vote being taken, is not consultation. It's meetings for them to tell us what they're already going to do."

These beneficiaries are furious at the trust board.  They feel that not all the beneficiaries are getting a say on what's going on.  

They also claim the voting papers were sent out in mid-December and the office closed shortly after. 

Mepham says, "The Port Nicholson office shut on the 18th of December and is still shut now, so there has been no way for us to contact them."

Neville Baker says, "A part of that is over Christmas. It's the right of every office to close."  He's concerned that the message isn't getting out to everyone. 

"The last time that we had a postal vote, within the port Nicholson Settlement Trust, we had a 19% turnout.  To me that wasn't a mandate, that was a vote of no confidence.  We are concerned that we're probably gonna get a vote that's similar to that," says Mepham.

"We go through the same as other tribal entities do, where we get another independent source to conduct the election.  If they choose not to turn out to vote, that's another issue," says Baker.

He also feels that in business one needs to sometimes act in haste. 

"When you're in business, and you are doing a business transaction and deadlines are being set by the company that you are dealing with. You either have too take the risk of possibly losing the deal, or sitting down and taking a commercial decision."

It's not as if the land being addressed is worth mere pennies.  It has been evaluated at more than $10 million in value. 

The final vote will take place in February.