John Nicholson / Stuff
The Crown admitted it failed to meet its treaty obligations when excess land was sold by the privatized airport in the 1990s. (File photo)
Kāpiti Coast Airport land is set to be returned to its original owners, after the Crown admitted it failed to meet its treaty obligations when the excess land was sold by the privatized airport in the 1990s.
The admission that the Crown had breached is a big change from arguments at the Waitangi Tribunal hearing in 2019, when the Crown argued that it had taken appropriate steps to ensure that the airport privatized complied with its public works obligations.
Kapiti Coast Mayor K Gurunathan said he was “delighted and encouraged” by the Crown grant she had breached te Tiriti.
This new Crown grant – granted at Waitangi Court on May 31 – means that the airport’s current owners, known as NZPropCo or the Templeton Group, may have to offer any excess land to the original owners: hapū Puketapu from Te Āti Awa ki Kapiti. During the airport’s financial difficulties in 2020, there were rumors that the Templeton Group was attempting to rezone the land and sell it for residential development.
“My 2020 council’s unanimous resolution for the return of the Paraparaumu airport land to the original owners has been vindicated by the latest finding of the Waitangi court,” Gurunathan said.
“Finally, we are beginning to recognize the injustice inflicted on the original owners and practical steps can be taken to address it by restoring people’s mana so they can take control of their own future and the potential development of the lands. located in the urban area of the center district.”
Gurunathan pledged to see the land return, saying that in 2020 he would be ready to join an occupation of the airport land in order to see him return to Te Āti Awa ki Kāpiti.
The recent grant admits that the Crown did not do enough to protect hapū Puketapu’s interests in the airport land when the excess land was sold in 1999. Originally, the Crown argued that the sale of 1999 was not a breach of the treaty, claiming that it was impractical for the airport company to offer surplus land to the hapū before reselling it.
The airport land was taken from Ngāti Puketapu hapū by the Crown for the airport in 1939 to build an airfield for the war effort, under the Public Works Act. The law requires that when public works land is sold as surplus, it is first offered to the original Maori owners of the land – this is what the Crown failed to do when it privatized the land. airport and then allowed private owners to sell the surplus. land in 1999.
Hapū Puketapu of Te Āti Awa ki Kāpiti was approached by President Tony Jackson for comment.
1939: The land of the present Kāpiti Coast Airport was taken by the government from the Puketapu hapū of Te Āti Awa ki Kāpiti. The land was acquired under the Public Works Act to build a military airfield for the war effort.
1947-1959: Paraparaumu was New Zealand’s busiest civilian airport.
1990 : A report on the airport’s 134 hectares of land recommended that over 110 hectares be offered to the original owners at market value. This does not happen.
1995: Private company Paraparaumu Airport Ltd bought the airport from the government for $1.65 million.
1999: Local group Te Whanau a Te Ngarara is occupying the airport land to protest that they were not offered the opportunity to buy it back from the government when it was no longer needed. Police arrested 24 protesters.
2018: Whānau of the families whose land was acquired in 1939 testifies in Waitangi court.
2019: Todd Property Group sold developments and land, including the airport, to NZPropCo.
2022: The Crown admitted that it violated te Tiriti o Waitangi and failed to properly protect the interests of the Ngāti Puketapu owners of the land.