Ngunguru spit saved - Napier Hospital site lost
Save Ngunguru victory. Just heard Mitch Harris on Radio Live announcing the sandspit has been bought by the Crown and is safe from the threatened development that has drawn criticism and protests for many years now. Having been on one of the protests I'm glad to hear this news. Mitch and I have mutual friends in the area and no doubt the Ngunguru - Tutukaka community will be over-joyed that their persistence has coincided with commonsense. The thought of subdivisions and houses or apartments being built on such an unspoilt - not to mention precarious and unstable - spit had every possibility of occuring as the Council seemed to be hamstrung by the developers.
I also know someone on the other side too - whoring themselves to the greed-mongering developer. The strategy with these outfits is simply extortion. They have little inclination to start bulldozing and sinking in any real money of their own, what they want is to generate momentum in the planning stages so that the development is fully approved and at that point they can then extract the maximum amount from the Crown for the land. Armed with lawyers and deep pockets the developers can challenge Council zoning and fight their way through the environment court and other courts until they get their way. Scaling the horror back just a little each time in order to appear reasonable and give the impression of compromise they got their way in the end. This is the template for all sensitive land blocks in the hands of developers. They can often make more money by not developing it.
But what is the cost?
he Department of Conservation has bought the Ngunguru Sandspit in a confidential deal with the spit's owner Todd Property Group.
In a related transaction Todd Property is acquiring the defunct Napier Hospital site.
The deal will see the Whangarei beauty spot preserved for the future enjoyment of local people, Whangarei MP Phil Heatley says.
The generic "LandCo" rubric is Todd Property, the development arm of the mega-wealthy Todd family. Note on the "meet our staff" roll call on that website that former Sky City CEO, Evan Davies, is the Managing Director and note that practically all the top management are white men and the lower orders practically all female - with minorities co-opted to front. A typical business structure in NZ.
Ever wondered how the rich get richer? - the Ngunguru block is a case study of the easy way. Extort the Crown by threatening to destroy the sensitive area and instead of using all the statutory and regulatory powers the Crown has at its disposal (and powers it would not hesitate to use to upend Maori efforts) the state just rolls over to the corporation and does a deal. This deal is a land-swap for the Napier Hospital site. The local MP, Phil Heatley, is also a minister we should remember so he must have convinced Cabinet:
"While confidentiality clauses prevent me discussing the details of the deal, I am able to confirm that a new mental health unit will be built in Napier with part of the proceeds of the transaction. This is a clear win, win, win situation," he says.
Win, win, win? That's even more winning than Charlie Sheen, what is Heatley on?
"Firstly it's a huge win for the people of Whangarei who have a place that is very dear to them preserved. Secondly it's a win for the people of Hawke's Bay who have funding for a new, much needed, mental health unit and finally it's a win for the Todd Property Group which has the opportunity to develop the old defunct hospital site to its full potential, which should enhance its value to Napier.
The way he says it it's like the Todds have gifted the spit and then made a donation to rebuild Napier Hospital! Who is writing his press releases - the Todd Property Group? The questions are glaring: What is the value of the hospital site, how much did this cost the Crown and what is Todd's cut?
The hospital cost answer is $13m+:
Napier's former hospital site has been sold for more than $13 million, with some of the proceeds to be spent on a new mental health unit, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.
The old Napier Hospital site, on the market since 2006, was bought by Todd Property Group.
The Todds sell Ngunguru to DoC for $x and then buy the hospital site for $13m. Since the Todds aren't operating a charity then surely $x is greater than $13m. How much greater is still unanswered and is deemed commercially sensitive, but will come out eventually.
The other question which never glares in the media's mind is the Treaty settlement situation of the land - both the Ngunguru spit and the Napier hospital. Are Iwi going to see one square centremetre of that? Obviously not, and yet both areas are not settled (see Map below with Napier inset) and landbanking of state assets would be expected to be in force. So since when was the Todd family a Mohaka ki Ahuriri hapu claimant? Why does that family now hold a $13m+ state asset and the local Iwi does not? This is privatisation pure and simple.