Iwi wants first bid on Solid Energy properties

5:23 pm on 15 March 2016

[b Waikato-Tainui is seeking a judicial review to stop Solid Energy selling land the iwi says is subject to right of first refusal.

Solid Energy sign crop

Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

The iwi plans to file a statement of claim today, as talks with the company and the Crown have failed to resolve the issue.

Waikato-Tainui spokesman Rahui Papa said Solid Energy has put two rural properties on the outskirts of Huntly on the market despite the tribe confirming its interest in buying them.

The land should first have been formally offered to the iwi, which has right of first refusal under the 1995 Waikato Raupatu Claims Settlement Act and the 2010 Waikato River Settlement Act, Mr Papa said.

Rahui Papa

Rahui Papa Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

He believed there was a clear process to be followed in such cases, giving the tribe the opportunity to get back confiscated land, and was disappointed this had not happened.

"The RFR is a mechanism that was put in place to offer Waikato-Tainui the opportunity to have lands which were confiscated in 1863 returned to us.

"It was one of the key elements of our Deed of Settlement in 1995 and is, today, a key factor in returning tribal lands to our ownership.

"We have upheld our obligations to the settlement agreements and our expectation is that the Crown and its state-owned entities will do the same."

Mr Papa said Waikato Tainui saw it as an opportunity to develop the land and create employment opportunities in the region.

He said Solid Energy were trying to secure the best price rather than the market valuation that was negotiated between the two parties.

"Overseas investors may have other views, we think the land should stay within new Zealand-owned hands," said Mr Papa.

Solid Energy's chief executive Dan Clifford said he was confident the process being followed was both appropriate and legally correct.

"Solid Energy has a responsibility to ensure openness, transparency and market-competitiveness, while also ensuring we meet any obligations such as, for instance, Waikato-Tainui's right of first refusal or the offer-back provisions of the Public Works Act."

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