Iwi Members Seek Enquiry Following Hager Revelations – Mau Whenua


Mau Whenua statement on Nicky Hager Investigative Report – The long, sorry saga of Shelly Bay – Published Saturday 4th of July 2020

Hirini Jenkins-Mepham Chair of the Mau Whenua group opposing Port Nicholson Block Trustees land sales said “Nicky Hager’s investigative report into City Council, Wellington developer and Port Nicholson Settlement Trust (PNBST) 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 in Local Government, Central Government, Developer dealings with their Treaty Settlement Trust PNBST. They also seek an urgent meeting with Wellington City Council (WCC) 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 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 it’s 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.”

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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. Many Pakeha join the tangata whenua on this issue, and thank Nicky Hager and Mayor Andy Foster for trying to help save lovely Shelley Bay from the despoliation and the greed of the neolibs.

    I voted for Mayor Foster, and canvassed for him, on this one issue which cuts right to the heart of our relationship with the physical and spiritual environment.

    • Snow White: “Many Pakeha join the tangata whenua on this issue…”

      Amen to that, though in my case for environmental and purely practical reasons. A development of that size there is a barking mad idea.

      We noted that Jackson had decided against building his movie museum there. We assume that he’d backed away from that site after having considered the implications of the lack of infrastructure, coupled with the seriously inadequate road access. Never mind what the likelihood of rising sea levels would do to that area.

      I’ve read Hager’s piece; I knew all of that history, but it’s good to have it laid out as Hager has done. It surely is a sorry tale, and reflects very poorly on all those Hager names as having had a hand in bringing about the current situation.

      “I voted for Mayor Foster…”

      As did I. And not just for this reason, but also to get the central library reopened pronto. If he cannot prevent the former and expedite the latter, he won’t get my vote again.

      • D’Esterre – “I voted for Mayor Foster…”

        Well done, old socialist. It’s the first time that I’ve voted right wing.

        Andy Foster is very good if you bail him up and talk to him, it’s like talking to an old friend. Bill English, on the other hand, stands there going, “Oh oh oh.” I am non-confrontational. The size of that Shelly Bay development, Foster raised with me, not vice versa. It is soviet-era grotesque; climate change issues are irrelevant- the property developers and the avaricious iwi will be long gone with their money.

        Both the English’s are seen as stand-offish and aloof; a supermarket checkout operator recounted offering to exchange a bag of spuds for English when she saw some fault in it, and he oh’d and mumbled ungraciously, whereas nice normal people would have murmured a conventional phrase of thanks – or said that it was okay.
        Her job’s safe – she quit; most of them are debt-burdened hard working students.

        • Snow White: “Well done, old socialist. It’s the first time that I’ve voted right wing.”

          Heh! Go us, old lefties being prepared to set ideology aside in the interest of progress…. if you get my drift.

          But thus far, my impression is that Foster lacks the toughness necessary for what we – or I at least – expect of him. From what I’ve heard, he succumbed to standover tactics on the part of the left wing in Council. I expected courage and leadership: I haven’t seen either.

  2. This is contentious and it illustrates how Maori have had to fight to retain anything against determined land-hungry colonials. As described above it is just another example of the consciousless behaviour of the greedy.

    But isn’t Shelly Bay low and vulnerable to rising seas? And apart from that rise, there is high tide storm damage that exacerbates any difficulties and puts any expensive or other buildings there at risk. That would make an environmental injunction possible surely. The Council opens itself up to future claims for assistance that must provoke a Canute response, but would no doubt end in expensive legal contests costing the taxpayer. Looking at the sea level change maps it seems to be high enough to escape much but the road along the coast – Shelly Bay Road – could be cut. Council would be foolish to get trapped by an investor – any gain for them would be short term and outweighed by cost eventually. The Defence Department may need it again sometime and lease it from iwi.

    Jul.4/20 https://www.newsroom.co.nz/the-long-sorry-saga-of-shelly-bay
    Feb 2020 https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/119748376/sir-peter-jackson-threatens-legal-action-on-council-shelly-bay-backtrack

    Interactive tool showing effect of rising sea. https://mapping1.gw.govt.nz/GW/SLR/

    For public taking an interest in what is happening and interacting with coastal scientists.
    Along with this tool, we have also developed a blog site to encourage the public to submit their observations and photographic evidence of sea level rise impacts. We really wanted to encourage people to contribute to the blog as form of citizen science. If we have a large number of community members, who might live on the coast, sharing their views and photos, it would be possible to create a community-based databank of existing perceptions out there.

    Link with stat info. https://www.stats.govt.nz/indicators/coastal-sea-level-rise
    The sea level rise for Wellington has gone to 11cm up on 1998 but then fell to 5 cm 2018, but has steadily been rising for Wellington on this record: https://statisticsnz.shinyapps.io/coastal_sea_level_rise_oct19/

    Another report states in The Impact of Climate Change on our Coast: ‘in areas with smaller tidal ranges (eg, Wellington, the Cook Strait area and the East Coast) the historic high tide mark may be exceeded more often.’


    And interesting DiCaprio involvement in Global Sea Change. https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-crisis/sea-level-rise/

    • Grey Warbler – “land-hungry colonials.”

      Cassels is a 20thC immigrant, now property developer, not a land-hungry colonial. You may err in type-casting Pakeha. There’s a word for that.

    • Grey Warbler Part of the issue here is also apparently Maori screwing Maori. Full read available online.
      Fortunately, a white man, Peter Jackson, has been trying to help them.

    • Greywarbler: “…determined land-hungry colonials.”

      I agree with Applewood on this. None of those involved is a colonial: this country is very far past colonialism, and has been self-governing since the mid-19th century.

      The Shelly Bay situation is only tangentially connected with the first settlers. What’s gone on there in the last few years has much more to do with money-grubbing (to put it bluntly) on the part of both sellers and buyers.

  3. John W Happens in lots of families – perhaps harder when totally good people produce bad.

    Bennetts used to be one of the most highly regarded families in Maoridom.

    • Snow White: “Happens in lots of families – perhaps harder when totally good people produce bad.”

      That it does. Something of that sort is the curse of aristocratic – and wealthy – families, is it not? The first generation to make the money, the next to squander it. Integrity and strength of character aren’t heritable characteristics, unfortunately.

    • Snow White.
      I worked with them both during them 1960s and my impression was the Mana of Ralph and all the unselfish good he did as a person and leader was traded upon and the Mana of the father prevented many from opposing the ratbag off spring.
      That sort misplaced reverence must be challenged and not allowed to create mischief as it has done with the whole corrupt dealings behind closed doors surrounding loss of land at Shelley bay.

      • John W: “….the Mana of the father prevented many from opposing the ratbag off spring.
        That sort misplaced reverence must be challenged…”

        You’re exactly right about this. It underscores the importance of judging people by their own deeds, not by what their forebears may have done or been.

        I recalled that the Bible has something to say about this issue, so I looked it up: Mathew 7:16, for those who are interested.

      • It’s a hard one, John; the mana of the forebears can be seen as challenged – but probably not, eg when Norman Kirk’s son coat-tailed into Parliament, and journos who knew him said that he wore a different sort of shoe.

        I don’t like Peter Jackson, but undoubtedly he’s been a power of good here, and inspired individuals are totally crucial in these usually exhausting battles; I fought against the 1987 and 1994 attempts to commercially develop Mt Victoria, and in 1987, the WCC were in it up to their necks.

        Simon Collins, running the now defunct “City Voice”, constantly adeptly called the WCC to account, and followed their every step on civic matters; there seems to be no-one of similar calibre in the local media now, hence Nicky Hager’s involvement in Shelley Bay is a godsend.

        Foster has always been good on Town Belt issues, and I voted Helene Ritche for the same reason, even when her chances weren’t the best. If Peter Jackson can help resource attempts to stop the desecration of Shelley Bay, and the exploitation of the tangata whenua, and the rough-shod riding over the locals, then he’ll be making a giant contribution to the future. Cassels might find something more socially productive with his time and money, but Cassels head’s workings are alien territory for many.

        • Snow White: “….I voted Helene Ritchie…-

          In that mayoral contest, so did I, because I thought her the best of the candidates. I liked neither Leggett nor Lester, and was disappointed when the latter won. He turned out as poorly as I’d feared. So when Foster put his name forward, I voted for him, so as to shoehorn Lester out.

          I desperately wish that Ritchie had got the nod at that election. Had she been Mayor, I’m pretty certain that we wouldn’t now be in the shit we’re in, either with the library or with Shelly Bay.

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