Contact set to sell Clutha properties

One of the biggest private owners of land and assets along the Clutha River, Contact Energy, has begun disposing of land it no longer requires.

Contact announced in May it had "withdrawn plans" for further hydro development on the Clutha River and said it would review management and ownership of some of its land holdings near the river.

Spokeswoman Janet Carson said at the weekend the company had identified "some properties" in the lower Clutha it was considering for sale, and was reviewing its upper Clutha holdings.

"We are working with current lessees to establish their interest in the first instance. Properties for potential sale will be considered on a case-by-case basis."It is understood some lease-holders were sent letters about the sale process in December.

Affected lease-holders contacted yesterday did not want to comment.

While it is not clear which of its properties Contact is looking to sell, the ODT has obtained information from a property sales database which shows clearly for the first time the extent of the Wellington-based energy company's total Otago property holdings.

Although the nature of holdings is not identified specifically in the database, they do include land bought for hydro development.

The database shows Contact has 147 individual properties in Otago, covering 13,912.25ha, and valued at $700,860,500. Included are $432,450,000 for the Clyde Dam and $200,000,000 for the Lake Roxburgh village.

The dams aside, the capital value of Contact's Otago properties is $68,410,500. The property is almost entirely between Luggate and Beaumont, with a small amount in Dunedin.

Contact has previously declined to comment on the size or value of its Clutha portfolio but has stated it inherited the land from the Government-owned Electricity Corporation of New Zealand, which was split up in 1996.

Although figures from the database do not show what improvements have been made to the land, most values now are considerably higher than the "gross purchase prices" listed:A 1.8ha property at Luggate bought in 1982 for $30,246 is now valued at $365,000.

A 88.83ha property at Mt Pisa bought in 1989 for $871,875 is now valued at $1,183,000.

A 5.6ha property bought at Wye Creek, Queenstown Lakes, for $8500 in 1985 is now valued at $1,025,000.

However, some appear to have declined over time.

A 1.32ha property at Beaumont was bought in 1993 for $195,000 and is now valued at $62,500.

A 191.16ha property at Ettrick was bought in 1995 for $885,000 and is now valued at $620,000.

A property of 0.13ha bought at Springvale in 1989 for $86,000 is now valued at $15,000.

Co-ordinator of the Clutha River Forum Lewis Verduyn reiterated at the weekend his call for an "ethical repatriation of lands".

He said much of the land had been "seized" in the 1980s with some land owners "literally made tenants on their own land".



Contact's 157 Otago properties,classified by the ODT according to approximate location, include

Luggate Properties: 10; area: 191.49ha; capital value*: $5,558,000
Hawea Flat Properties: 2; area: 33.09ha; value: $290,000
Mount Pisa Properties: 6; area: 454.95ha; value: $11,483,000
Queensberry Properties: 2; area: 2.83ha; value: $480,000
LowburnProperties: 14; area: 5950.74ha; value $5,948,000Cromwell Properties: 2; area: 9.59ha; value: $1,855,000
Queenstown Lakes Properties: 5; area: 87.32ha; value: $3,038,500
Kawarau Gorge Properties: 2; area: 204.27ha; value: $2,300,000
Other Central Otago Properties: 9; area: 2308.76ha; value: $2,603,500
Clyde Properties: 2; area: 122.86ha; value: $432,990,000
Galloway Properties: 1; area: 15.66ha; value $110,000
Lake Roxburgh Village Properties: 1; area 63.5ha; value: $200,000,000
Teviot Properties: 1; area: 2.22ha; value: $225,000
Letts Gully, Central Otago Properties: 3; area: 8.33ha; value: $312,000
Springvale Properties: 2; area: 4.61ha; value: $245,000
Ettrick Properties 10; area: 786.21ha; value: $2,928,000
Millers Flat Properties: 30; area: 186.12ha; value: $4,250,000
Craigellachie Properties: 6; area: 1656.78ha; value: $6,442,000
Beaumont Properties: 19; area: 315.56ha; value: $4,160,000
Kononi Properties: 1; area: 70.13ha; value: $85,000
Evans Flat Properties: 4; area: 3.72ha; value: $108,500
Island Block Properties: 7; area: 489.21ha; value: $3,102,000
Raes Junction Properties: 1; area: 55.64ha; value $705,000
Rongahere Properties: 4; area: 884.22ha; value: $11,525,000
*values as per current GVs  

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