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Ruawai Leader Slams Kaipara Council In Battle Over $400k Property

Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024 03:56 PM
A Kaipara leader has slammed his council over the sale proceeds of an iconic piece of Ruawai history in an intensifying David and Goliath battle.
Kaipara District Council (KDC) earlier this month rescinded its December decision that sale proceeds from a $400,000 residential property could be returned to the Raupo drainage committee.
When the 16 Ruawai Wharf Rd property sells, the sale proceeds will instead go to the council.
Raupo Drainage Committee chairman Ian Beattie said it was unacceptable for KDC to revoke the December vote.
Proceeds from the sale of the just over 1000sq m residential property are at the centre of a worsening David and Goliath stoush between KDC and its oldest sub-committee.Ruawai drainage committee chairman Ian Beattie outside the 1940-built former Ruawai Drainage Board's head office in Ruawai Wharf Rd
Photo Susan Botting, Local Democracy Reporter Northland
Beattie said the Raupo drainage committee was now seeking legal advice.
The committee’s Raupo Drainage Board predecessor was legally set up by Parliament in 1905.
However, the Kaipara District Council inherited the board's assets when it formed in 1989 as part of local government amalgamations. The board, along with Hobson and Otamatea county councils and Dargaville Borough Council, were merged to become KDC.
The property has an empty three-bedroom house, built and owned by committee predecessor Raupo drainage board, to accommodate staff. The organisation’s historic former head office, built in 1940, is also at the site. These were built and have been maintained with targeted rates collected from Ruawai and Raupo landowners who include farmers, business operators and residents of the small settlements.
Beattie said the property was paid for and managed by the drainage board, then later drainage committee, using targeted rates from local property owners.
This meant the committee was entitled to the sale money, Beattie said.The 1940-built former Ruawai Drainage Board's head office it built on the property at the centre of a council/locals stoush at 16 Ruawai Wharf Rd
Photo Susan Botting Local Democracy Reporter Northland
He said the money had been due to go to the committee for building and improving infrastructure in the flood scheme across 8700ha, with up to four metre high stopbanks protecting the community against climate change.
Farmers, businesses and homeowners who benefitted from the scheme paid significant targeted KDC rates for this scheme's management and maintenance.
Beattie, a Ruawai farmer, spoke out against the council change of tack, despite working at KDC as infrastructure officer - stormwater lead since October on a nine-month contract. He said he worked on urban stormwater rather than the drainage scheme. His appointment was short-term, to cover staff shortages.
He told the meeting he was not speaking in that role but as the Raupo drainage committee chairman.
Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson, who led the successful charge for the council U-turn in April, said paying the sale money to the Raupo drainage committee would breach council's treasury policy.
This required income from the sale of such assets to go back to the council to repay debt.
Jepson said it would create a precedent if the money went to the committee.
He said the financial outcome for KDC of the council getting the sale proceeds might not seem large, but every dollar added up.
Cr Mike Howard, who seconded Jepson’s move, said the change of tack was about a principle, and there was a policy that guided such things.
Deputy Mayor Jonathan Larsen and councillors Howard, Gordon Lambeth, Ron Manderson, Pera Paniora and Rachael Williams supported the Mayor in the 7:3 April majority vote.
Crs Mark Vincent, who is the Raupo drainage committee KDC council representative, Ash Nayaar and Eryn Wilson-Collins opposed the revoking.
Wilson-Collins said during April meeting debate she would not be able to hold her head up high in the Ruawai community if KDC rescinded its December decision the property sale proceeds could go back to the drainage committee.
Vincent said returning the property’s sale proceeds to the committee would not create a precedent because it was a unique situation due to its history.
He unsuccessfully sought to have Jepson’s move withdrawn from the April meeting.
Susan Botting - Local Democracy Reporter
Content from the Local Democracy Reporting (LDR) service is published by Scoop as a registered New Zealand Media Outlet LDR Partner.
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