Wellington Scoop

Mau whenua want public inquiry into land sales at Shelly Bay

News release from Mau Whenua
Hirini Jenkins-Mepham, Chair of the Mau Whenua group opposing Port Nicholson Block Trustees land sales, says Nicky Hager’s investigative report into land deals at Shelly Bay strongly supports our contention that a Public Enquiry into complicity and shady dealings must be initiated – and now. We fully endorse Nicky Hager’s report. Let the truth be known. Mau Whenua recognise the quality of journalism in the detailed investigation documented and published in the Hager report.”

Given the seriousness of the detail presented in the Hager report, Mau Whenua are continuing to seek the Public Enquiry into Local Government, Central Government, Developer dealings with the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust. They also seek an urgent meeting with Wellington City Council Mayor and Councilors. Mau Whenua believes the sale and lease of the WCC owned land at Shelly Bay should not go ahead.

“If WCC continue with the sale and 125 year lease it would only perpetuate the injustices already visited upon Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o Te Ika people.”

Hager clearly sets out the sorry events and disturbing facts around the proposed Shelly Bay development including the active complicity and lack of transparency over years by key players the Port Nicholson PNBST, The Wellington Company Ltd., its associate company Shelly Bay Investment ltd. (SBIL), and Wellington City Council.

Hager details the underhand dealings of players involved in what Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o Te Ika members consider a modern day “land grab” of Tangata Whenua land. It not only identifies the great wrong committed against Taranaki Whānui but also what is proposed to the detriment of the Wellington community.

Mau Whenua continues with its High Court case scheduled for March 2021, seeking orders to bring the land located at Shelly Bay, formerly owned by the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST), back into the ownership of the iwi members of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.

Mau Whenua considers that the ‘secret sales’, behind closed doors complicity, and other transactions highlighted by Hager were a breach of trust by the Trustees. Mau Whenua further claim in legal proceedings that the Wellington Company group owned by Mr Cassels and its associated Shelly Bay Investments Limited (SBIL) knew or ought to have known it was acquiring trust property in breach of trust. Mau Whenua argues that the Wellington Company and SBIL should not be allowed to retain ownership of the Shelly Bay Properties and that those properties should be returned to the ownership of iwi members.

Mau Whenua representatives consider that “Cassels continues to put on a brave, determined face, considering he doesn’t have secure ownership of the disputed land.”

As kaitiaki we, Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui are responsible for the protection and sustainable use of the whenua. To honour our Tupuna, to protect the futures of our children. When our Trustees fail us we must all stand up and take responsibility to right the wrongs.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust is the governance entity established by Taranaki Whānui for the purpose of settling its historic treaty claims with the Crown and to receive and administer the trust fund for the benefit of present and future members of Taranaki Whānui.

Ian Cassels is Director of The Wellington Company and Shelly Bay Investment Limited which is a property development company.


  1. Pauline, 9. July 2020, 9:03

    Totally agree with Mau Whenua and Nicky Hager’s report on Shelly Bay land deals.

  2. Marion Leader, 9. July 2020, 10:14

    How does this fit with another report about $21,000,000 worth of government exposure on a certain apartment building which is not “shovel-ready” in spite of statements saying it would be finished by now?

  3. CC, 9. July 2020, 13:03

    Marion, the $21m has now been increased to $40m as a one off deal and building has commenced after a two-year delay. The original $21m underwriting was for 44 KiwiBuild apartments so presumably, the whole 93 will be owned by the state if the Wellington Company defaults. Work is now underway on the project and some KiwiBuild purchasers have withdrawn and recovered their deposits. The only connection between this project and the Shelly Bay fiasco is that the land purchase was another Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust ‘pass-the-parcel’ rort.

  4. Marion Leader, 9. July 2020, 17:20

    Thank you, CC. I hope you have read Nicky Hager’s report on Shelly Bay. Many thanks to Scoop for letting me know about it.

  5. CC, 10. July 2020, 16:05

    Marion, further reading.

  6. TrevorH, 10. July 2020, 17:37

    When is the Council going to make a public response to Hager’s article? Has he got the facts right? If so, the saga reflects poorly on the Council – their reputation has hit an all time low.

  7. michael, 11. July 2020, 13:35

    There should be an urgent independent investigation as to whether council staff have overstepped their position regarding the Shelley Bay development, and whether they have compromised their mandated responsibility to ensure councillors are kept accurately advised in order to be able to make well-informed decisions. According to Nikki Hager’s article, council staff not only knew about the ‘no sale’ vote, which is when they should have backed away from the project, but they remained very actively involved in, and aware of, what appears to have been a dubious process to keep the project alive.

  8. TrevorH, 11. July 2020, 21:09

    @ Michael: yes a public inquiry is essential. We need answers. How can the public believe anything this Council says? Hager’s history of Shelly Bay is a wake-up call

  9. Benoit Pette, 13. July 2020, 15:42

    @TrevorH: even when Shelly Bay was in every mouth and every column last year, no Councillor, except Calvi-Freeman, made a single public comment. No one. It then became election time, and every candidate was asked their thoughts on Shelly Bay. Most, if not all of them, opposed the development (ask EMPI for the records). Nine months in, and silence is again the go-to strategy. Good luck even trying to get any indication from the Council on their strategy, vision, planning, etc to fix this fiasco.

  10. Ruth, 13. July 2020, 20:02

    Any councillors not involved should speak out quickly and clearly. The silence makes them all look guilty.