The lease for the highly contested Avana Point land is now for sale.
The family landowners of the Avana Point property, who sought to declare the historic area a national reserve, have failed to pay back the couple who leased the land or offer them suitable land for a swap.
New Zealander Richard Ireton and his Cooks partner Jessica Lennan purchased the lease almost two years ago. They have been unable to build their home after landowners began to recognise the land’s cultural significance and delayed construction.
“We have made every effort to find a solution and were in favour of a land swap,” Ireton said.
He added the land that was offered to them was either too small or not equal to what they paid for the lease.
It’s been a waiting game for the Iretons and unproductive meetings with landowners have left them with no choice but to put the lease on the market.
The Iretons are calling on individuals, government or organisations to send a letter of interest which must be received by October 18, 2019. The lease is also being advertised internationally.
If no interest to buy the lease is received or no one from the family landowners comes forward to offer another piece of land equal to what they paid for the lease, they will begin to build their home on the property.
Their construction plans include a public walkway on the property, leading to the front of the shore.
The Iretons reportedly leased the land for a hefty $320,000 for 45 years.
But their plans to build a big house on the land, which is next to culturally significant Vaerota marae, overlooking the ancient makatea rock on its shore, has been met by a widespread community opposition. More than 2500 people have signed an online petition against construction on the Avana Point site.
In August, a small construction shed on the property was firebombed; police have charged a 23-year-old, whose family members are among opponents of the building development. His lawyer denies the attack was politically motivated.
Vaikai Mataiapo Tutara Sonny Daniel, a land representative, earlier said the family didn’t know opposition to the building project would get out of hand, and had been disappointed with comments on social media claiming the Iretons were at fault.
In fact, Daniel had said the family should never have leased out the land.