Indigenous | Ngāti Tūwharetoa

Ngāti Tūwharetoa drops bid for Ruapehu Alpine Lifts; reserves stance under its Treaty claim settlement

Ngāti Tūwharetoa now opposes the liquidation and sale of assets of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts.

It’s a change of heart by the iwi which was looking at a formal bid to buy New Zealand’s biggest commercial skifield when it went into liquidation in July.

Tūwharetoa now says the sale of the business must stop.

In a letter to iwi members last month, the paramount chief of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu, said an appraisal of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts was underway in preparation for an iwi bid.

Sir Tumu said the commercial purchase was “culturally imperative” and supported by other iwi with interests in Ruapehu, as they considered “the wider issue of the outstanding maunga settlement and his enduring care”.

Now it’s understood that Te Arawhiti, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Business have been told Ngāti Tūwharetoa is against the liquidation and sale of assets.

Hui next week

Te Kotahitanga o Ngāti Tūwharetoa, the post settlement governance entity which represents 26 Tūwharetoa hapū, says the sale breaches the 2018 Ngāti Tūwharetoa Claims Settlement Act.

It now wants “enforceable commitments” and will “pursue all avenues available” to ensure the rights of the iwi are protected.

It’s understood a hui between Tūwharetoa and Labour ministers will be held in Taupo next week to discuss the iwi’s demands.

A spokesman for Regional Development Minister Kieran McNulty says the liquidation of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts’ assets remains commercially confidential. Kānoa, the regional economic development and investment unit, will be considering all bids that require government support, and this will inform advice on the next steps to the Cabinet.

Ruapehu Lifts collapsed earlier this year after a combination of rising debts, lack of snow and cancelled seasons due to Covid-19 hit it. However, shareholders declined to accept bids for the company from Whakapapa Holdings and Pure Tūroa, preferring to tip it into liquidation. The government agreed to subsidise this snow season in the hope the business could be sold as a going concern.