Hapū set to negotiate million dollar leasehold land deal

By Ripeka Timutimu

An Auckland hapū is set to negotiate ground rents on a 20-hectare block of leasehold land in the Auckland CBD, a potential million dollar deal.

Ngāti Whātua Orakei lease the Quay Park land which they brought in 1991 for $44 million. Whai Rawa is the commercial arm of the hapū which owns and administers the land.

Its deputy chair Ngarimu Blair says they are acting in accordance with their role as leaseholders of the land, “Our model that we have with this 20 hectares is that we lease it. 150 year leases so we hold onto the land, and it drives the income”

Every seven years the land is revalued and the ground rents reviewed on sites like Spark Arena and the Old Railway Station. Hundreds of apartment owners will be affected by the review on the Quay park block.

One dairy owner say's he pays $25,000 per year in ground rents and just wants a fair negotiation.

Property expert Leonie Freeman says its prime real estate in the CBD, “We’ve had such big increases in land and property values in Auckland so when it comes to the Ngāti Whātua properties the land has probably increased by 100-150% so land values have gone up”

It's estimated the hapū currently receives around $15 million dollars in ground rents per year, which only adds to their current $900 million dollar asset portfolio. With around 2500 members, Blair says their profit drives social change amongst their hapū, “The ultimate vision is not about building up assets and economic wealth for the sake of it, its all for ploughing back into our people”

Negotiations are expected to begin in May, with new ground rents payable by August.