Crown Concedes Treaty Breach Over Sale Of Paraparaumu Airport Land: Press Statement By Mayor K. Gurunathan

Published: Tue 14 Jun 2022 07:36 PM
My Council’s 2020 unanimous resolution for the return of the Paraparaumu Airport land back to the original owners has been vindicated by the Waitangi Tribunal’s latest finding. The Tribunal, noted the Crown’s admission that it had “…failed to take appropriate action to ensure the protective mechanisms in section 40 of the Public Works Act which protected the former owner’s interests, were fulfilled”. The Tribunal’s memorandum issued on 30 May confirmed that the Crown had accepted there had been a Treaty breach and that Cabinet had approved the concession.
I am thrilled and encouraged that finally we are beginning to recognise the injustice dealt to the original owners and practical steps can be taken to redress this by restoring the mana of the people so they can take control of their own future and potential development of the land sited in the district’s urban centre.
The Crown admission and the Tribunal’s finding, is directly related to the sale of a block of airport land called Avion Terrace in 1999. The substance of the principles means the current Airport owners , NZPropCo also known as the Templeton Group, cannot define any parts of the airport lands to be surplus and sell them off. They have lost that right. After the Templeton Group bought the airport from the then owners, Todd Property Group, in 2019 they had promptly put the most profitable part of the airport land, Kapiti Landings Business Park, for sale on Trade Me.
The Crown’s revised position is that the Chief Executive of Land Information NZ is responsible for complying with the offer-back provisions of the Public Works Act 1981 and making any decisions under those in relation to any land held for a public work by an airport company.
The Tribunal’s memorandum relates to treaty claims raised before it in 2018 by Te Atiawa/Ngati Awa ki Kapiti. The Crown had then submitted that when the Crown sold its interest in the airport to a company called Paraparaumu Airport Ltd (owned by Murray Cole and two partners) in 1995, the offer-back obligations under section 40 & 42 of the Public Works Act were transferred to the buyer. The appellants to the Tribunal had challenged the sale by Paraparaumu Airport Ltd of land at Avion Terrace in the late 1990s. The Crown’s position was that the sale was determined by the airport company and the offer-back Public Works Act requirements were exempt because it “would be impractical, unreasonable, or unfair” to offer the land back to the former owners.
In a 16 November 2020 memorandum the Crown had reconsidered its position on the interpretation of the Airport Authorities Act 1966 and the Public Works Act 1981 stating that the CEO of LINZ was responsible for complying with the offer-back provision. In a further memorandum to the Tribunal in May this year the Crown reiterated that in its previous position that the responsibility for the offer-back sat with the airport company the Crown had failed to take appropriate action to ensure the protection mechanisms in section 40 of the Public Works Act to protect the interests of the former owners were fulfilled.
The memorandum said: “The acts and omissions of the Crown regarding the application of the offer back provisions in the Public Works Act to the land at Avion Terrace cumulatively mean that the interests of the Ngati Puketapu owners were not properly considered or protected when the airport company sold the land in 1999 on the basis that it was surplus to its requirements. This was a breach of te Tiriti o Waitangi and its principles.”

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