Tauranga City Council has adopted the Property Acquisitions and Disposals Policy 2021, which includes a right of first refusal (RFR) for mana whenua to buy land at its assessed market value.
The buying and selling of property by council (property acquisition and disposal) happens for many reasons. Council buys land to build infrastructure, create new greenspace or provide community facilities. When a piece of land is no longer needed for its original purpose or to deliver another strategic outcome for the community, Council can decide to sell it to realise a financial return for ratepayers.
Tauranga City Council Commission Chair Anne Tolley said that the new policy was created following the review of three existing policies and will make it easier for people to understand why a property is being bought or sold, and easier for council staff to apply a single consistent process.
“This review also gave us the opportunity to look at the principles behind the policy – including how we can recognise the historical and cultural connection that mana whenua have with the land here in Tauranga Moana,” Anne said.
“The policy now gives mana whenua the opportunity to purchase council property through a right of first refusal at market value – which is assessed by independent registered valuers – before it is offered for sale through an open market process”, she said.
The RFR will apply the sale of surplus property, which the Council has decided is no longer required for strategic or operational purposes, and therefore is suitable for disposal. The RFR does not apply to atypical properties (properties that are harder to value). Not all properties will fit these criteria and the RFR can only happen after any statutory obligations are met.
“It’s the first policy of its kind in Aotearoa New Zealand, and worth celebrating. It’s another positive step in the right direction towards recognising the significant role that mana whenua have in building, protecting and celebrating Tauranga, its environment and its people.”
“We have created a process which we believe will enable council to achieve a market-based return for ratepayers, while giving mana whenua the opportunity to participate fully in the process and regain ownership of historic whenua”.
The policy will be available on the policies section on the website by the end of the week. The policy will be reviewed in two years.