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Consultation with former landowners and Māori

Case study for students: Paraparaumu Aerodrome.

Before selling Paraparaumu aerodrome, the government needed to meet its legal and Treaty of Waitangi obligations by consulting with former landowners and Māori.

Former owners

MOT identified, but did not contact, the original owners of the aerodrome land.

The government recognised that selling the aerodrome to a private owner could prevent the original owners from buying back their land. Because of this, it changed the law (Airport Authorities Act) so that the landowners' buy-back rights would remain even after the land was sold.

MOT believed that this law change adequately protected the rights of the original landowners so decided not to inform them of the sale.

Māori

MOT consulted with iwi and hapū groups that had lodged claims with the Waitangi Tribunal in the area of the aerodrome.

MOT needed to find out how meaningful the land was to the Tribunal claimants. If the land wasn't particularly meaningful, other land could replace it in Treaty settlements.

Three iwi were interested in the aerodrome. After some discussion with MOT, all agreed that their Waitangi claims, if successful, could be compensated with other land or assets.
Based on this information, MOT went ahead with the sale.

Unresolved aspects of the consultation

  • One iwi group, Ati Awa Ki Whakarongotai Inc, told MOT that it was passing its interests in the aerodrome to the relevant hapū – a former landowner. MOT chose not to contact the hapū because it believed that their interests would be protected under the law related to former owners.
  • Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira argued that the government should remove from the sale land that wasn't needed for the aerodrome's operation. It said that MOT, as an experienced airport operator, should decide which land was surplus rather than leave the new owner to do so. This would make the surplus land available for Treaty compensation. However, MOT said that it was not in a position to make this judgement.