Lessees' freehold hopes dashed

Tuesday 23 March 2004

Hundreds of West Coast leaseholders facing big rent increases have been given almost no chance of freeholding their Maori-owned sections.

By The Landlord

Their landlord, the Mawhera Incorporation, says they have the Government to thank for that after it "short-changed" the owners with a compensation deal.

Mawhera chairman Maika Mason said shareholders at the last annual meeting had responded by refusing to sell any of their land.

Mawhera leases about 900 residential and commercial sections in Greymouth and Westport.

It said three years ago it was willing to consider selling some of the residential sections to lessees. It changed the status from Maori land to general land to facilitate freeholding.

An action group representing Westport lessees claims the incorporation has reneged on its promise, leaving the mainly elderly lessees in the lurch.

Mawhera Lessees Westport Action Group chairman Jack Powick said it had heard nothing for three years and so had invited Mawhera management to a meeting tonight to give a "definitive" answer.

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