Tainui to buy Ihumātao land - sources

The standoff at Ihumātao in south Auckland could be over with Tainui set to buy the land, says The AM Show host Duncan Garner.

But owner Fletcher says it is waiting for the outcome of discussions between mana whenua and Kīngitanga first. 

Garner told AM Show viewers and listeners on Friday morning he understands Fletcher is willing to sell the land, earmarked for development, for at least $38 million, possibly $39 million. 

Tainui has historic links to the land. 

"Nanaia Mahuta has been a Labour MP for Waikato Tainui since 1996, her father Bob struck the original treaty deal for $170 million in 1996," Garner said.

"She has been crucial, I am told. Crucial because she knows all the players in Tainui, and all the players on Government. 

"The involvement of the Māori King this week has been symbolic - his blessing was important, but the deal was already done."

But protest leader Pania Newton told Stuff discussions with Tainui so far hadn't brought up the possibility of buying the land. 

"This is a Crown issue, not a Treaty issue," she said. "Māori shouldn't solve Crown issues. The Crown has to take responsibility."

Fletcher said no deal has been made yet.

"We are aware of the media reports about a sale. Fletcher Building is standing-by to hear the outcome of the discussions between mana whenua and Kīngitanga, and when they are ready we are here to talk about the future of the land we own at Ihumātao."

The Tainui deal was signed in 1995, the first under the Waitangi Tribunal process.

The development comes a day after a hīkoi from the disputed land to Jacinda Ardern's electorate office, calling for her to visit the site.


Former Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson, who successfully negotiated 59 deals in nine years, on Thursday said Ardern had done the right thing in not getting involved. He suggested the protesters take their case to Tainui, who could easily afford to buy the land off Fletcher. 

"All the iwi that have settled around this area have Tainui links. Kiingi Tuheitia's been there. I think it's a fantastic opportunity for Tainui to step up - they're very, very wealthy - and say, 'Right - we'll buy the land commercially. Nothing to do with the Crown at all.'" 

The protesters have occupied the land for over a month.

Tainui was the first iwi to cut a deal with the Crown in the mid-1990s, and has since turned its $170 million into holdings of more than $1 billion.

"They could think about an appropriate development there that takes into account all the concerns Pania has mentioned," said Dr Finlayson. 

"You could get an appropriate Novotel there, beautiful open space. Someone suggested it could be a golf course... Open space, beautiful piece of land. What better than having 18 holes before you jump on the Emirates flight to Dubai?"