10 Sep 2009

Cook Islands landowner says more developers interested in stalled hotel project

5:24 pm on 10 September 2009

The owner of the Cook Islands land on which a partially-built hotel complex has languished for more than two decades says there is still a lot of interest in the development.

Pa Ariki, the paramount chief of the Takitumu people, says she has terminated the lease because the former developer failed to honour his commitments.

Work on what began as the Vaimaanga Hotel in 1987 stopped in the 1990s after a series of financial problems.

The Hilton chain put its support behind the venture in 2007 with two New Zealand property developers, Dan McEwan and Tim Tepaki, as joint partners but Mr McEwan's bankruptcy earlier this year left Mr Tepaki with sole responsibility for the project.

Mr Tepaki says he's optimistic that he can still develop the hotel but Pa Ariki says there are other interested investors.

"We've got other investors that are very very interested so we're waiting for them to come to the table with us because they are waiting for me to forfeit the lease so that they don't get sued or anything, now everything's cleared, come back, and now we'll be sitting down and talking business."

Pa Ariki, the Takitumu people's paramount chief.