Shelly Bay land deal fails to clear vote hurdle

Support from trust members falls short of 75% majority.

A proposed $11.4 million sale of Wellington coastal land at Shelley Bay will not go ahead after a vote among its owners did not reach the required level of support.

The Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust was seeking support from its members for a sale of the property to The Wellington Company, owned by developers Ian Cassels and Caitlin Taylor.

Announcing the results of the vote today, trust chairman Neville Baker said 51% supported the deal, which was below the required 75% majority.

He said it had been difficult to be completely transparent about the background to the transaction because of a Serious Fraud Office investigation of allegations relating to the trust’s acquisition of the land in 2009.

“While the Serious Fraud Office is still finishing its investigations and responding to its findings and suppression orders remain in place around the matter, it has been extremely difficult to demonstrate with complete transparency the need for the sale of Shelly Bay,” he said.

“The timing of the SFO being able to have the matter resolved in the High Court has been unfortunate in respect of the vote. However, we understand that by the end of April this year the High Court may be able to complete its work and the board will be able to share that with members.”

Trust chief executive Jason Fox said it was encouraging that the 26% voter turnout was relatively high for the trust and it was apparent that more trust members were realising the importance of selling development land.

 “We need to do what is best to increase the Trust’s wealth so we can take advantage of the rights available to us, so as to better the lives of our members regardless of past difficulties,” he said.

The trust bought the land at Shelly Bay for $15.2m with the intention of developing a museum project with film director Peter Jackson.

In a fact sheet for members about the current deal, the trust said no contract was in place at the time.

“Sir Peter Jackson and his associates withdrew from discussions and abandoned their plans. This was after a suggested attempt by persons representing themselves as associated with the Trust to secure from Sir Peter, payment to them personally of up to $750,000, including $250,000 up front, for services including securing the land and composing a master plan and publicity plan.”

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