29 Aug 2019

Shelly Bay: Claims Sir Peter Jackson funding dissident iwi group

10:47 am on 29 August 2019

Claims have been made that Sir Peter Jackson is throwing more money at opposing a controversial Shelly Bay housing development on Wellington's coast.

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The Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust sold parcels of land to Ian Cassels' Wellington Company for development.

Questions were raised at this week's city council meeting about Sir Peter's role in helping to fund the dissident iwi group Mau Whenua, which is opposed to the development.

Sir Peter Jackson has always opposed the project and had recently been campaigning against it through public Facebook posts, and emails to the mayor and councillors.

Councillor Andy Foster has also opposed the development, and his mayoralty run was being bankrolled by Sir Peter Jackson.

Mr Foster asked the council to support a thorough review of the project by the chief executive, which would have caused the project further delays.

It had previously had its resource consent quashed by the Court of Appeal, and the second resource consent is being considered by independent commissioners.

Members of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust were at the council table for the meeting.

A member of the public opposed to the project, Anne Philips, questioned the council about its decision to allow the sale to go ahead.

Kara Puketapu-Dentice from the trust asked her if it was true that Mau Whenua was being funded by WingNut Films, owned by Sir Peter.

Dr Philips said she had no knowledge of the financial implications of Mau Whenua, because she was not a member of that incorporated society.

Later in the meeting Wayne Mulligan, the trust's chair, raised the issue again, addressing Dr Philips.

"I think if you go to the court records you will see it (the group), is being funded by another party. So if we're talking transparency, lets be totally transparent about this."

The court records Mr Mulligan referred to were related to legal action launched by Mau Whenua against the trust over the sale of the Shelly Bay land.

Mau Whenua member Catherine Love said the group takes donations from many individuals and businesses - but she was not at liberty to identify any donors.

"But I can say when there are significant donors or businesses they are required to sign an undertaking that any donation that they may make will not give them any right to interfere in or influence decisions made or actions taken, by Mau Whenua."

She said she'd like to know why the members of the settlement trust were able to sit at the table with councillors, and ask public submitters like Anne Philips questions.

"The settlement trust members clearly have a financial and reputational conflict of interest when it comes to this matter and it's wholly inappropriate for them to be sitting around the council table, taking submissions from iwi members and others, on this matter."

Yesterday's vote meant any review of the dealings and arrangements over Shelly Bay won't happen until after independent commissioners report back on the resource consent for the project.

WingNut Films had been approached, but have not yet responded to emails from RNZ.