Dunedin's financial fortunes could be looking up, with
confirmation Ngai Tahu is planning a $20 million student hostel
in the city.
The investment could be just the tip of the iceberg, with
suggestions the tribe was planning to invest nearly $300
million across the South Island - including more in Dunedin
projects - in the years ahead.
Ngai Tahu Property chief executive Tony Sewell, of
Christchurch, confirmed the hostel and wider investment plans
in response to Otago Daily Times questions yesterday.
He would not disclose the total sum to be invested across the
South Island, describing the suggested total of nearly $300
million as ''pure speculation''.
However, he confirmed talks were under way with potential
investment partners in Dunedin that could lead to more
projects in the city.
''Ngai Tahu is looking for good investment opportunities in
Dunedin. It's a major centre of the South Island and a major
part of Ngai Tahu's rohe [territory].
''We'd like some more and this is a great opportunity for the
iwi to further show its face and its hand in the Otago
His comments came after Dunedin City Council staff confirmed
yesterday they were close to concluding a $2 million deal to
sell surplus land on the edge of Logan Park to Ngai Tahu's
Councillors endorsed the move in a non-public part of
Monday's full council meeting, although public consultation
would be required before the council approved the deal later
The multi-storey hostel would be built for Otago Polytechnic
students by the beginning of 2015, and could have up to 235
Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said the hostel's
apartments would be designed to attract an even split of New
Zealand and international students.
The ''base model'' would be five-bedroom self-contained
apartments, with supervision within the hostel offering a
safety net, he said.
The development would also form a ''major plank'' of the
city's economic development strategy, which included a push
by the polytechnic to attract more international students to
the city, he said.
''This can only be achieved if we can offer good-quality
accommodation. We see this as inextricably linked with the
economic development of the city,'' Mr Ker said.
Mr Ker said he was ''fairly confident and hopeful'' people
would support the deal.
''We think we are dealing with a multi-party win-win-win
Mr Sewell said the development was a ''great opportunity''
for Ngai Tahu and the polytechnic to work together while
providing a community benefit.
''It has a significant aspect of community good in it, it's
commercially sound and it's very long-term.
''They're the types of things that we are interested in.''
He would not discuss other investment opportunities
identified in the city, which remained commercially
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said Ngai Tahu's investment was
''very much in line'' with the city's economic development
strategy, which stressed the importance of the tertiary
sector and good housing.
''It's good for everyone, really. I would welcome more Ngai
Tahu investment in the city.''
Council city property manager Robert Clark said the land to
be sold was a 3000sq m car park off Union St East, behind the
polytechnic and next to the hockey turf.
The site was designated park land under the Local Government
Act, triggering the need to consult the public over the sale.
It had been bought by the council years ago but since deemed
surplus to requirements for the planned redevelopment of
Logan Park, he said.
A sale and purchase agreement with Ngai Tahu Property was in
place, but subject to due diligence and the results of public
consultation, he said.