Ngai Tahu Property could help finance a major overhaul of
Dunedin Hospital - expected to cost hundreds of millions of
dollars - as part of the tribe's investment drive in the city,
it has been suggested.
The idea was floated by Ngai Tahu Property chief executive
Tony Sewell as he and other tribal representatives visited
Dunedin to discuss their investment plans yesterday.
Mr Sewell said the tribe's property investment arm was
looking for long-term intergenerational investments, and
hospitals were among the opportunities being considered.
''We would like to own a hospital - not to own and operate -
to own as a commercial property investment and let someone
else operate it, like the Government.
''We'd like to be in a position if they did decide to rebuild
Dunedin Hospital, or upgrade it, there would be an
opportunity for some private sector investment.''
The idea of Ngai Tahu investing in health and education
facilities was also raised during a meeting last night with
some of the city's largest organisations, including the
Southern District Health Board, Dunedin City Council,
University of Otago, Port Otago and Otago Chamber of
SDHB chairman Joe Butterfield, who was not at the meeting,
said when contacted last night the hospital faced
''significant'' capital expenditure to rebuild or refurbish
it over the next 10 to 15 years. The ''ball park'' estimated
cost, at this stage, was likely to be ''some hundreds of
millions of dollars''.
How that would be financed was yet to be considered, and
would ultimately be a decision for the Government, but ''all
options will need to be considered''.
''Whether Ngai Tahu, in offering a deal, would be as cheap as
government, as good as government, or what-have-you, is
something that's still got to be explored.
''We haven't had any discussions with Ngai Tahu about this.
Obviously, when the time comes to develop it, all options
will be considered,'' he said.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said when contacted the only
public-private partnership on the horizon was the Buller
integrated family health centre, and the Government ''has no
plans to sell any of its hospitals''.
Despite that, Mr Sewell said the idea of investing in Dunedin
Hospital remained ''really interesting'', although more work
was needed before a firm proposal was on the table.
''We need to go and have some discussions with them about
some options that we might have.
''When they're looking at their whole mix of what they may or
may not do, we wouldn't mind being in the discussion.''
He also wanted to discuss other opportunities in the city,
including the potential to invest in the University of Otago,
the city's schools or with the Dunedin City Council.
The reception from those at last night's meeting was
''gracious'', he said.
''They're interested. They're interested in having a
discussion, and that's what I really like. Nobody has said
`Oh no, we'd never do that'.''
The talk would continue when the company held its board
meeting at Otakou marae in Dunedin today, including
discussion of the long-term strategy for the ''$500 million''
property investment and farming business, he said.
The iwi already has a 6% stake in Ryman Healthcare, which
runs 25 retirement complexes in New Zealand, including the
Yvette Williams and Frances Hodgkins villages in Dunedin.
It also owned and leased the Dunedin Police Station, and
earlier this year confirmed plans to invest in a new $20
million student hostel at Otago Polytechnic.
In Central Otago, the iwi owned 32,000ha of high country
sheep, beef and deer farm and several investment properties
in Queenstown, including the police station and courthouse.
However, Mr Sewell said the business was seeking to ''grow''
its property investments, ''particularly those related to
leases with the Crown'' and other parts of the health sector
He would not put a figure on how much the iwi would invest in
''We'll just invest as we find the deals that we think suit
us - we don't have a regional budget, as it were. If the
deals are good enough, we will follow them.''
Property was a significant part of the iwi's financial
success. Financial gains had included adding value to the
''fairly astute'' farm development projects and property
investments, he said.
''They have increased in value and returned good cash.''
The iwi had ''phenomenal'' sales of the 2500 residential
sections it had available to sell in Christchurch over a
''Last year, we sold 400 [sections]; this year we sold 500 or
Board chairman Barry Bragg said the Dunedin visit was an
opportunity to engage with local politicians and business
Ngai Tahu would make potential stakeholders aware of what
Ngai Tahu had to offer and build long-term relationships so
when the market presented investment opportunities, the iwi
was in a position to take advantage of them, Mr Bragg said.