14 Oct 2017

Iwi buys Lake Taupō tourist attraction

2:55 pm on 14 October 2017

Ngāti Tūwharetoa - legal owners of Lake Taupō - have bought the iconic lakeside 'Hole in One' business.

The iwi said the purchase of Lake Taupō Hole in One Challenge aligned with its commitment to invest locally.

The previous owners of the business - in which punters try to hit golf balls onto floating pontoons - paid an annual licence fee of $10,000 to Ngāti Tūwharetoa, which owns the lake bed and the airspace above it.

The Lake Taupō Hole in One Challenge - in which people try to hit a golf ball onto a pontoon - has been bought by Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

Ngāti Tūwharetoa has bought the Lake Taupō Hole in One Challenge. Photo: www.greatlaketaupo.com

"We think that is a great opportunity for us to leverage off our own taonga, so it makes sense for us to own and operate and run businesses on Lake Taupō," said Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board chief executive Topia Rameka.

"This is our first of what - we hope - is many."

Mr Rameka said the purchase, made through the board's commercial subsidiary, Taupō Moana Group Holdings Limited, would benefit the people of Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

Levies charged by the iwi on commercial users of the lake, allowed for under a revised deed of settlement signed with the Crown in 2007, have been challenged by some businesses and the board is seeking a declaratory judgement from the High Court confirming its ability to license commercial operations.

The case will have a second hearing towards the end of November.

Meanwhile, the board was focused on its long-term plan to diversify its holdings, invest in tourism and boost its presence on the lake, Mr Rameka said.

The chairman of Taupō Moana Group Holdings, Tiwana Tibble, said the purchase would be seamless and everything would be "business as usual".

"Lake Taupō Hole in One Challenge is a well-run operation. Our plan is to shortly appoint a new manager to help grow and incorporate the new business into our portfolio."

Settlement is scheduled for 31 October.