13 Feb 2016

Shelly Bay sale not dead yet - Trust

1:47 pm on 13 February 2016

The Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust is making clear the sale of a piece of prime Wellington waterfront land is not dead yet, despite it failing to win enough votes in a special referendum.

The Shelly Bay site will become a Special Housing Area.

The Shelly Bay site will become a Special Housing Area. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

The land is the one time Air Force base at Shelly Bay in Wellington harbour.

It was bought by the trust for $13 million under a right of first refusal which was connected with a treaty settlement for the local iwi, the Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.

But a joint venture with Sir Peter Jackson fell through and the land has languished since then, earning a return for the trust of just one percent a year.

The trustees argued strongly for a sale in order to rebuild their finances.

But of those members of the iwi that the trust represents, only 26 percent voted on the issue, and of those, only 51 percent voted for a sale.

Under the rules, 75 percent had to vote for the sale for it to be acceptable.

The property firm, the Wellington Company Ltd, offered $11 million for the land, with unspecified extra payments to be made available when it was developed.

The trust said it would have like the sale to be approved, and suggested the issue is not dead yet.

Trust chairman Neville Baker said he was pleased with the number of people who understood the sale had to go ahead for the trust to recover from its financial difficulties.

He added an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office was proceeding and a lot of information had been suppressed, which made it hard to discuss the case with complete transparency.

"The timing of the SFO investigation has been unfortunate in respect of the vote," he said.

"However we understand that by the end of April the High Court may be able to complete its work and the board will be able to share that with its members."

Mr Baker said many people felt land should not be sold and others thought better offers would come along.

But in fact, the only offer on the table was from the Wellington Company.