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Court clears farm sale despite iwi bid

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/06/2016

The country's highest court has cleared the path for Landcorp to sell a block of land in Bay of Plenty despite an iwi being denied a chance to bid on it.

The Crown-owned farmer can now proceed with the sale of the 404 hectare Wharere Farm dairy property to Micro Farms after the ruling by the Supreme Court.

The sale had been put on hold after a legal challenge from Ngati Whakahemo.

The Office of Treaty Settlements had incorrectly told Landcorp there was no claim on the land as it believed Ngati Whakahemo's historical claims had been settled.

The iwi told Landcorp in late 2013 it had a claim on the land but it, relying on advice from the office, said that was not the case and it got the same response from the Minister of Finance's office.

The iwi was denied a chance to make a bid on the farm.

The Supreme Court ruled, in majority decision, that Landcorp's decision to sell that land was susceptible to judicial review.

It also said decisions of shareholding Ministers and the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations not to intervene on the iwi's behalf in the tender process.

Both were declared a wrongful exercise of public power because they were made under a material mistake.

A majority declined the bid by appellant Mita Ririnui to have the sale and purchase agreement set aside although two of the five justices recommended the matter referred back to ministers for consideration.

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