National | Waikato-Tainui

Tainui asks gov't to buy council shares in airport, for unresolved treaty claims

The Novotel International (top centre) is one of several investments Waikato-Tainui already has in the Auckland Airport precinct. Photo / NZME

"Waikato-Tainui are the perfect investors" for Auckland Airport, Executive Chair Tukoroirangi Morgan says, because it means the land and assets associated with the airport will remain kiwi-owned.

The tribe said Thursday night it is seeking a sizable stake of any Auckland Airport shares that are put up for sale as Auckland Council aims to balance its books.

"We have outstanding Treaty of Waitangi claims in the Auckland region, particularly around Mangere," says Morgan. According to him, the latest sell-off proposal presents a significant opportunity for the government to purchase the shares and utilize them to settle their remaining claims in the area.

Controversial Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown wants to sell the council's airport shareholding to help address a $325 million budget shortfall, pay down debt, and keep rates below the rate of inflation.

A majority of councillors are believed to be against a full sell-off though.

"Waikato-Tainui are the perfect investors because it means the land and assets associated with the Auckland Airport will remain in NZ ownership in perpetuity," Morgan reiterates.

Waikato-Tainui already has significant property investments around the Auckland airport, including the Novotel International and the new 5-star Te Arikinui Pullman hotel, which is due for completion later this year.

"This commitment positions Waikato-Tainui well as a responsible investor and owner of nationally significant assets at a time when our tourism industry is rebounding from 2-3 years of disruption," says Morgan.

"This purchase will also relieve the government of a long drawn out settlement negotiation process."

"At the end of the day we are ready for the conversation and will be seeking urgency to discuss the detail with government ministers over the next couple of weeks," he adds.

Auckland Iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei yesterday offered it's own proposal to balance the books at Council by buying back the Ports of Auckland.

"We have made it clear to successive Auckland mayors that we are open, willing and able to purchase council assets it is selling, such as the Ports of Auckland," said Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei deputy chairman Ngarimu Blair.

Mayor Brown and the government are yet to comment on either proposal.

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