Indigenous | Ruapehu

Ngāti Tūwharetoa bidding for collapsed Ruapehu Alpine Lifts; now going through its books

Ngāti Tuwharetoa bids for Ruapehu skifeild operation company

Central North Island iwi Ngāti Tūwharetoa has confirmed it is in the bidding to buy Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, which runs New Zealand’s biggest commercial skifield but went into liquidation last month owing creditors $45 million.

The company went into voluntary administration to manage its debt, blaming its losses on poor winter seasons and Covid-19, and was then moved into liquidation.

Concerns were raised over the flow-on effect for local businesses, residents and iwi of the company going under but the first two potential buyers could not reach a price the liquidators were willing to accept.

Millions of dollars were given by its bank and the government to retain staff and keep it afloat but this had little effect and in recent weeks it had been expected to shut down with a loss of many jobs and at an expected closure and removal of assets on the ski field cost of $150 million.

Nevertheless, the business is operating for the season and liquidators say they hope they can find a buyer.

Last month, local iwi wrote to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, demanding officials consult with iwi before signing off new operators for the Whakapapa and Tūroa ski fields.

Today paramount chief Sir Tumu Te Heuheu told members of his iwi that due diligence was now under way on the iwi bid and would take four to six weeks

“This information will directly inform how Tūwharetoa approaches a commercial purchase. Astute risk assessment with a view to what is truly at stake, commercially, but more important, culturally imperative, in the immediate pathway forward,” he said in a letter to the uri of Ngātoro-i-rangi, the priest who navigated the Arawa canoe to New Zealand.[.

“I have also been in discussion with whanaunga iwi who are connected to the maunga to signal my intent and at this early phase of the undertaking enjoy their support. Ensuring that we are connected on key kaupapa will be important as we start to consider the wider issue of the outstanding maunga settlement and his enduring care.”

The whanaunga iwi include Ngāti Rangi, which shares affiliations with Ngāti Tūwharetoa to the mountains within Tongariro national park - Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.

The book value of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is estimated to be valued at more than $50 million.