Smith embarrassed as Iwi propose legal proceedings over Auckland housing

Written By: - Date published: 7:51 am, June 15th, 2015 - 60 comments
Categories: housing, Maori Issues, national, same old national, supercity - Tags:

Nick Smith Ngati Whatua

Nick Smith’s handling of Auckland’s housing crisis had added pressure applied today.  Ngati Whatua and Tainui have announced they will be seeking a declaration from the High Court in an attempt to clarify the nature of their right of first refusal of Crown land for housing purposes.

Smith has not handled things well lately.  First there was the release of the invitation to private investors  before any budget announcement had been made which meant that pre budget some messy repair work had to be conducted.  Note Smith’s claim made at the time that 500 hectares of Crown-owned land in Auckland owned by various agencies has been zoned residential.

Then there was the discovery that some of the land was adjacent to a large power substation, and other proposed land included a cemetery, a fire station, and school playing fields.

In an attempt to assuage an increasing incredulous media Smith took them on a magical mystery tour by bus to show them some of the land under consideration.  The claimed 500 hectares of land had shrunk to 30 hectares.

The level of incredulity again increased when it was discovered that one of the sites visited included land owned by Auckland Council, not by the Crown.

And peak incredulity surely has been reached with his handling of treaty issues caused by the proposed sale of the land to private developers.  Andrew Geddis has canvassed the issue here and here.

The basic problem is that the settlement deed signed by the Crown and Iwi stated that if the Crown intends to develop land for social housing and involves a party other than the Crown (including a private buyer) in that development then the Iwi has the first right to be that developer.  And you cannot reconcile this right with the original proposal for “an open contestable process to identify a shortlist of suitably qualified parties or consortia with the capability and capacity to deliver housing developments at pace in Auckland”.

There is the power for the Crown to dispose of land if the Minister (Smith) believes that the disposal will achieve or assist in achieving the Crown’s social objectives in relation to housing.  But the parties are meant to act in good faith.

Geddis summaries the issue in this way:

So it isn’t the case that under this Protocol the Crown must in every case give the iwi and hapū’s limited partnership the first chance to be the developers of housing on Crown land in Auckland. But, by the same token, can the Government possibly be acting in “good faith” by making a sweeping decision that the iwi and hapū’s limited partnership is not to have first dibs on any of the 500 hectares of Crown land that is allegedly being made available for new housing? Without, it should be noted, apparently even informing the iwi and hapū’s limited partnership that it is intending embark on this new policy?

Ngati Whatua and Tainui have been very respectful in the way they have handled this issue, in a manner that Smith should try and emulate.  From the Herald:

A statement issued today in the name of Ngarimu Blair for Ngati Whatua and Tukoroirangi Morgan for Waikato-Tainui said they were 100 per cent behind the Government’s goal to ensure more safe, warm, attractive and affordable homes are built in the Auckland region “as soon as possible”.

But an issue had arisen over the right of first refusal when land was to be used for private housing developments.

They said they had learned from differences of opinion over the interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi that it was “much better to resolve differences of opinion early as we look forward through the 21st and 22nd centuries”.

And Smith was interviewed this morning on Morning Report.  He avoided obvious difficulties by answering  different questions to those asked and by talking at length.

The offer by Ngati Whatua and by Waikato-Tainui to the Crown to seek a joint declaration from the High Court is an elegant way to avoid a direct confrontation and to resolve what potentially is a very damaging issue for Iwi Crown relations.  Surely the Crown will jump at the offer.

You would think that by now Smith and Co would have learned not to stretch to breaking point arcane language in a statute so that it can avoid direct Iwi involvement in an issue of considerable concern to Aucklanders.  And you have to wonder at what was discussed at yesterday’s meeting between Smith and Iwi representatives and why he gauged their response so badly.

60 comments on “Smith embarrassed as Iwi propose legal proceedings over Auckland housing”

  1. Charles 1

    “…they were 100 per cent behind the Government’s goal to ensure more safe, warm, attractive and affordable homes are built in the Auckland region “as soon as possible”….”

    So according to census 2013, with roughly 40% of Maori in Auckland earning around 20K or less a year, that’s some seriously affordable, high-quality energy-efficient homes about to pop-up. Who’d have thought that a National government was about to heavily subsidise, build and maintain public housing? That must be why they were selling off all the old stuff, to make way for the new high quailty stuff. Oh yeah must have been. And why Nick Smith was saying we should leave people to die of pneumonia in crappy moudly old state housing units. I had them all wrong… The National party are really stealthy socialists.

    All together now… come on M.Hooten, come on John Key, and you Nick… join in!

    Stand up, damned of the Earth
    Stand up, prisoners of starvation
    Reason thunders in its volcano
    This is the eruption of the end.
    Of the past let us make a clean slate
    Enslaved masses, stand up, stand up.
    The world is about to change its foundation…

  2. saveNZ 2

    It’s pretty simple, retain the state houses and upgrade them. That will be quicker, easier and cheaper than ‘private partnership deals, where the affordable housing has now gone to $550k, (with 70% are over that amount) and will take years to build.

    Also maybe incentives for people to move out of Auckland.

    And of course migration and housing needs to be addressed like in other countries like Australia and China, who have controls to protect migrants from buying all the housing stock with off shore money and driving up the prices and demand.

    • Marvellous Bearded Git 2.1

      @saveNZ +100 Perfectly put.

    • Chooky 2.2

      +100 saveNZ

    • Amanda Atkinson 2.3

      Yip, it’s so very very simple. We need foreign investment, no doubt. But, if foreigners want to investment in our real estate market, they should only be allowed to build a new house, not buy an existing one. Everyone wins. A foreigner buying an existing home, has not 1 single benefit to NZ, not 1. A foreigner building a house however, adds housing supply, brings money into NZ, and creates jobs. Maybe it’s too logical for the pollies.

      • Tracey 2.3.1

        All our “allies” seem to be able to understand and implement it… makes you wonder why ours don’t.

        • Amanda Atkinson 2.3.1.1

          maybe it’s too easy for foreigners get around it by using proxies and/or company structures, so the pollies have never bothered with it. But, as you say, others do it. I can understand (to a point) not putting restrictions on certain countries, if Kiwis are allowed to freely go there and buy as well. Can’t have it both ways. I’ve no idea which countries fall into that category, but one that does not is China. Why should we let them buy our houses, if we are not allowed to do the same there? Doesn’t make any sense to me. Not a racist remark on China. I’d say the same if it were the USA or Canada too. The thing we have to do in NZ is promote investment by Kiwis and foreigners into business, not houses. We are our own worst enemies as well. The pollies aren’t helping, but neither are we, with this obsession we have with real estate. Imagine what could we achieve if all those billions tied up in real estate, filling the coffers of the dirty rotten filthy banking industry, was piled into businesses instead.

          • Tracey 2.3.1.1.1

            that’s the thing though Amanda, we are not free to go and buy anywhere, without restrictions or foreign buyer taxes on top of purchase prices.

            • Amanda Atkinson 2.3.1.1.1.1

              That would actually be helpful information, instead of Tywford and Smith just trading political blows with meaningless sound bytes. One of them should tell us what the rules are in other countries, and why ours are not the same, and fix it, and make it fair. I spose Twyford can’t ignite that issue because Smith will just say, well successive Labour governments never did anything either, and round and round we go. Frigging pollies, they’re all the same. Just do the right thing. Who cares whether is a blue, red or green idea. I sure as hell don’t.

              • Kiwiri

                Oh? Let’s decipher what you’re pushing:

                Bue, red or green – they are all the same. Blah blah blah Twyford is useless and so were successive Labour governments. Nothing new here.

                • Amanda Atkinson

                  Not my point at all. Twyford has some good ideas, so does Smith. If they stopped their stupid games, and point scoring, in amongst all the BS (from both of them), are the solutions.

                  • RedBaronCV

                    Well Nact are clearly responsible for the$0.5million migrants that have come since 2008 and blown aucklands population over the top.
                    And funny how you only want a sensible solution from all parties when Nact are getting hammered it’s not like they want to form a consensus on retirement climate change kiwisaver or the flag

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.3.2

        If it’s logic you’re looking for, there are many logical options available to any government that accepts that it has a major role to play in any market economy.

        This government is opposed to that simple fact as a matter of blind faith; despite that its activities account for ~35% of the economy, it persistently refuses to accept its responsibilities to the wider citizenry.

        • Amanda Atkinson 2.3.2.1

          Was no different under Labour. That’s the thing with all this stuff. The Nats and Lab both get blamed for this and that, all from ideologies. I’ll never see it in my life, but I’d love the day where people can just have a sensible discussion about what is good for our country without Blue, Red or Green blinkers on.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 2.3.2.1.1

            You mean like the scientists and academics that the National Party hires Cameron Slater to intimidate.

            • Amanda Atkinson 2.3.2.1.1.1

              My point exactly, blinkers. Of course, the left would never do anything like that. You see, whilst the right love Slater and the left hate him, the swing voters, the open minded ones, simply do not care about him. And, thankfully, most Kiwi’s have open minds and switch their vote at each election, depending who they think is best capable of running the country at that time. Unlike that 22% who still voted for the Nats when they were a cot case under English, and the 30 odd percent who still voted for Labour last year, even though they were incapable of running themselves, let alone the country. Slater is nothing but an excuse for the left to latch onto for an epic fail. No one cares about him. Well some do, but that will be his followers, who will also be part that 22%, who will always vote blue, no matter what. So his net influence, is nil.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Your point is drivel.

                There isn’t a middle ground between evidence-based policy – which is what you’re paying lip service to – and say, right wing denial of Climatology. Or Epidemiology.

                Where’s the middle ground between Nick Smith’s approach to housing and human rights?

                Pretend that all opinions are equal if you like, but I prefer not to keep my mind so open that my brain falls out.

                • Amanda Atkinson

                  Well, you may think my point is drivel, but my vote wins elections, your vote, is as irrelevant as Slater’s lot.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    So, since you claim to see a need to dispassionately assess policy, what’s your excuse for switching your vote around every time the political wind changes direction? Is it the National Party’s proven history as wealth destroyers or their shabby environmental record? Pike River? Oravida?

                    I’m genuinely curious how you reconcile “a sensible discussion about what is good for our country” with your own behaviour.

                  • linda

                    there is no answer to affordable housing while there is cheap money and speculation the cure is higher interest rates ,capital gain tax ,and ban on none resident buyers there has got to be a crash we need one badly ,yes a lot will be hurt wiped out bankrupt but its necessary to bring back reality of proper valuation indexed to the local economy, there needs to be destruction so a reset can begin

  3. Ad 3

    “Elegant solution” indeed. Elegance is not the first word that springs to mind when you hear the name Nick Smith.

    Twyford is going to have a field day with this, all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Crown Law will be in the gun yet again for really poor judgement. Have to wonder which numpty department is giving the Minister such poor advice.

    • mickysavage 3.1

      Makes you wonder if he did receive legal advice. He really seems to have been blindsided by the issue.

      • dukeofurl 3.1.1

        Legal advice can be tailored by making sure you ask only the questions you want answered.
        The Tamaki collective seem to have far stronger legal case than that occurred for Foreshore and Seabed.

        I think the tribes want to get this sorted with a decision of the court for once and all as Smith wants to drive a train through a small loophole.

        • Tracey 3.1.1.1

          Not quite. When the government asks for a legal opinion it will get all sides of the statutory interpretation argument, it can then choose if it wants to run its preferred interpretation argument but it won’t get only the interpretation ti wants.

          The thing is IF Smith has his legal opinion he could tell us what legal interpretation of social housing supports the sale of the land without triggering the right to buy option of iwi.

      • Ad 3.1.2

        If he doesn’t know the Public Works Act offer back provisions by now, he is going to get a long drawn-out lesson in them shortly.

        A brave (and I mean Labour-led government) would stand in the open market and buy as much land as it can afford in order to build houses, rather than use the Public Works Act and all its encumberances. As Smith is finding out.

        Twyford I am sure knows the scale, risk, and opportunity of this. He has to bend the Auckland market with direct market intervention. That means forming new public entities for commercial purposes, buying land, building houses, and selling them off. By the thousand.

        • dukeofurl 3.1.2.1

          Or we can wind back on the inflow of migrants.

          I saw the other day, lady who was a student for a low level course, was talking about bringing her husband to NZ- who would get a work visa.

          This is crazy as its really a back door work visa program where the ‘course’ is funded by work in NZ. As they would be staying in Auckland it just blows the housing / rental market apart.

          These things should be adjusted to fit the economic circumstances

      • Tom Gould 3.1.3

        Word around Wellywood suggests this might have been deliberate, a wilful oversight in the hope Iwi would mount a challenge and look like they are blocking progress. Smith is more than capable of blowing the dog whistle to add to the list of scapegoats for his massive failure.

      • Tracey 3.1.4

        You know it was done in haste cos Key is staying away from it and leaving Smith to look foolish…

  4. Karen 4

    It will be interesting to see what the Māori Party do here. After all their very existence is due to the Labour government not accepting the Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendation on the Seabed and Foreshore. This is potentially a much bigger issue for Māori, as it fails to recognise an agreement already made with the crown.

    • Skinny 4.1

      The Maori Tory party will make a little bit of noise then Sir Pita will pop up on TV supporting the Nat’s. The public will bemoan the usual ” What more do these Maori’s want, and their holding up the process of house building. “

      • Hateatea 4.1.1

        Why would Ta Pita speak on behalf of the Maori Party? He is no longer a co-leader. It would be either Te Ururoa Flavell or Marama Fox who would articulate the parliamentary members’ views on behalf of the party as it would for any other party.

    • Sacha 4.2

      And red-faced Nick Smith is in the thick of it again.

      • Skinny 4.2.1

        Listening to the political show on this mornings Nine to Noon it was interesting to hear Hooton pipe up. As I understand Matthew has been doing some work for Ngati Whatua ? Is this the same iwi group that put forward a tender for a convention centre down on the Auckland water front ?

        I have to agree with Hooton that Labour needs to ditch Annie King, and I’ll add other has beens. It is a bit like expecting the AB’s to take the same team as we won with last time into this years Rugby World Cup and win.

  5. redfred 5

    Which National Donor has Key & Smith et al promised the land to already

    • Tracey 5.1

      Fletchers is always the best guess, afterall they have a home development company now.

  6. Tanz 6

    FFS, Iwi are double dipping here. They have been paid out and signed the settlement for this land, what is their issue now? Paid millions and now want another bite of the apple. and selfish, when the country needs the land for housing. this is a fine line for the opposition to tread, surely.

    • Karen 6.1

      The settlement says they should be given first refusal to buy the land – they don’t get given it. The reason for this is because their payout is less than 2% of the land that was unfairly taken from them.

      I suggest people start reading a few Waitangi Tribunal reports before they launch in to the usual redneck response to treaty settlements.

    • adam 6.2

      Tanz at the very least read some of the accompanying documentation before you open your mouth. Or better yet read a history book. At the heart of the issue for Iwi, is the crown acting like the overbearing gobshit it always acts like. How about I come into you home, and take away you fridge – then tell you we all need fridges. Is that analogy good enough for you. Or how about this – I’d like to build you a new fridge, but your stole my factory with which to make it, now your stealing the land it was on.

      So Tanz – think for two minutes before you offer half baked, racism. Because you sound like a racist.

    • Tracey 6.3

      “”It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.””

      It is part of the negotiated settlement, the terms of the agreement, the contract. Which part is hard for you to understand?

    • Sacha 6.4

      If the opposition want to appeal to uninformed racists, you’re right tanz, they’ll need to avoid disagreeing with talkback on this one. Greedy maaries, etc.

  7. Tanz 7

    don’t care what I sound like. Iwi have been paid millions of taxpayers dosh for decades now, and that land is sorely needed to house our ever-burgening population. It just goes on and on and on; with a payment of ten million dollars etc can Iwi/s not be satisfied?
    Key is certain he is on firm ground, and he wouldn’t say that if he thought otherwise. Greed is playing a part here, bigtime, but not by the Nats.

    • Pascals bookie 7.1

      You can’t say that on the one hand we have paid Iwi out so they ought to be satisfied, but on the other hand breach the payout agreement.

      What is happening here is that Iwi who agreed to settle their claim for a few cents on the dollar of what they lost, are now being stiffed on that settlement.

    • Tracey 7.2

      “”It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.””

      It is part of the negotiated settlement, the terms of the agreement, the contract. Which part is hard for you to understand?

    • Tracey 7.3

      and Key has never lied or misled anyone… What is the GST rate again?

    • maui 7.4

      It would be interesting to go back and see if the property that you currently own/rent was fairly acquired from Maori in the 1800s, not through outright stealing or a deal struck in strong favour of the colonists. If it hasn’t been fairly acquired, which is probably true, it would be interesting to tally up the loss to the Maori owners of 150 years of pakeha use of that land.

    • Skinny 7.5

      You bloody halfwitted fool. The kiwi groups that signed an agreement have 1st right of refusal, at least they believe they have so are testing it in court. Don’t tell us you wouldn’t either my redneck coobah.

    • Grant 7.6

      Māori have accepted settlements which amount to a few cents in the dollar of what they are actually owed if everyone had what was due to them. If they were paid what they were owed you’d be talking billions not millions. This has been a generally accepted fact by all fair minded people who don’t have their heads firmly planted up their bums for as long as the settlement process has been under way.
      We live in a time when the average Auckland house price is rapidly approaching a million dollars EACH. http://www.barfoot.co.nz/market-reports/2015/may/market-update

      This puts settlements based on tens of millions of dollars in perspective doesn’t it?

    • linda 7.7

      how about your golf courses i think those areas need looked at Epsom mt eden need high rises apartments ,its rich to blame Maori for the incompetence of your john key government and let not forget its the baby boomer’s who have wreaked this country with there greed ,

    • Hateatea 7.8

      Gosh, didn’t take long for a kaki whero to emerge.

      Please go do some research before commenting on Treaty Settlement issues.

    • Hateatea 7.9

      Right of first refusal doesn’t mean a gift. Unless otherwise stipulated in the original settlement, all land chosen by iwi under RFR must be paid for.

  8. Tracey 8

    Hooton is “working for” the Iwi, whatever that means. He thought he “probably” needed to disclose it before giving his opinion on the iwi/smith situation… “probably”. Ya think Matthew???

  9. This issue will be fought to the wire and the govt will lose but do it anyway – that’s just how they roll, blue and red.

    Meanwhile the golf courses…

  10. Takere 10

    Its pretty obvious what the govt will do here ….. have Ngai Tahu & Tainui, Ngati Whatua go to court. Clock up a massive legal bill then The Attorney General who is also the Minister of Justice as well as the Minister of Waitangi Tribunal Settlements & OTS Chris Finlayson, will cut only them a deal if they drop their case. The other 10 iwi will have to suck a lemon and probably will lose whatever putea they might of contributed to taking the case.
    The Bank of China NZ Ltd & the China Construction Bank NZ Ltd are waiting for a precedent to be set to use as leverage when deal with iwi with other land sales. Raupatu MK 111

    • Hateatea 10.1

      Ngai Tahu is not part of the Tamaki consortium which is the 13 iwi with interests in and around Tamaki-makau-rau NOT Te Wai Pounamu.

      If you haven’t got the basic facts correct you should have done more research.

      • Takere 10.1.1

        I think you had better check again who is taking the case against the Crown. Whatua, Tainui & Tahu.

  11. Neil 11

    This is so typical of the national party, doing as they please making a mockery of laws & treaty agreements. If the laws don’t suit them they just rewrite them to suit themselves.

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