Anger at Ngai Tahu's profit from sale of Dunedin school

Figures released under the Official Information Act reveal Ngai Tahu Property made a $53,000 profit when it sold the former Tomahawk School site to the Dunedin City Council last month.

Ngai Tahu declined to provide the sales information at the time, but a request for the price through the Official Information Act 1982 showed the Ministry of Education sold the school site on January 28, 2012 to Ngai Tahu Property, pursuant to the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998, for $247,000 (GST excluded).

The amount paid was the same as the present market valuation, which was determined by a professional valuer.

However, the property was then on-sold about one month later to the Dunedin City Council for about $300,000 (GST excluded).

Tomahawk resident and School Pool Restoration Committee member Vic Inglis was angry Ngai Tahu appeared to have "creamed off the top" on the deal.

"Ngai Tahu have profited from a deal on reserve land, where there would have been no commercial gain, had they retained this land.

"It's an absolute rort and ratepayers are out of pocket by $53,000."

Dunedin City Council community and recreation services manager Mick Reece said the council bought the land and buildings to safeguard the city's coastline.

It was a key piece of land for coastal protection from erosion and global warming, and the site was necessary to buy, whatever the cost, he said.

"[DCC city property] said that was the best deal they could do, and I'm happy with that."

Mr Inglis also believed the Government's system, in which Ngai Tahu was given first right of purchase, was flawed.

"The community's stance on this is that the land was originally part of the Ocean Grove Domain, until the Ministry of Education requested to purchase land for school use back in the 1950s.

"Our argument is that it should have been returned to its rightful place as part of the domain, for a whole swag of reasons."

A Ngai Tahu Property spokeswoman said the right of first refusal was an economic instrument designed to rebuild the Ngai Tahu economic base.

"It is enshrined in law and details of it can be found in part 9 of the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998."

A Ministry of Education spokesman agreed. He said once a school closed, the ministry began a disposal process in which it was required, by law, to offer the property to parties following a specified sequence.

"This process often takes years to complete and, in many cases, property is eventually passed to the Office of Treaty Settlements."

The stages included consulting other government agencies and other local authorities about their interest in the property; offering the property to the former owners or their willed successors; offering the property to iwi; assessment by the Office of Treaty Settlements of any claim to specific or individual interest in the property; and sale on the open market.

Tomahawk School was closed by the Ministry of Education in April 2010 as a result of declining rolls, and the property was sold as part of the ministry's five-step process for the disposal of Crown-owned property.

The disposal process is largely determined by the Public Works Act 1981.

 


Tomahawk School

 

Bought for: $247,000.

Sold for: $300,000.

(GST excluded) 


john.lewis@odt.co.nz

 

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