“We are not in the land development game” …an intriguing tale of land and property interests owned by Horowhenua District Council chief executive David Clapperton

by Veronica Harrod

“We are not in the land development game,” said Horowhenua District Council chief executive David Clapperton in response to why he and his wife Catherine Whitehouse have their company Kai Tipu Ora Ltd listed under a “Land development or subdivision (excluding construction)” industry code.

He made the declaration in an exclusive interview after the company Mr Clapperton and his wife are sole directors of was publicly revealed for the first time in the commentary Horowhenua Horror Bout that appeared on the Kapiti Independent News media site recently.

Mr Clapperton said the reason why the company was classified under the land development/sub-division code was because he and his wife intended to set up an office on the property, and they were also going to subdivide the property to build accommodation for a family member.

“However the land is not going to be subdivided to build accommodation for a family member any longer,” he said.

In response to whether it was appropriate to have a company with an industry classification that bears little relevance to the services being provided by the company Mr Clapperton said, “In hindsight we wish we hadn’t but it was a mistake that can’t be changed. We have asked to change the classification” rather than de-register the company.

In answer to why the company structure was still necessary if the reason for establishing it was no longer being pursued he said, “We were advised to set up a company for tax requirements,” he said.

A Companies Office spokesperson refuted the statement that business industry classifications could not be changed. He said, “Business Industry Codes (BIC) are provided on a voluntary basis by the company, and are not verified by the Companies Office. A company is able to change its BIC without having to re-register as a company.”

The Horowhenua District Council rating database had no information on the address Mr Clapperton and his wife Catherine Whitehouse included in the director address details for their company Kai Tipu Ora Ltd listed with the Companies Office. A physical check for the correct address reveals that only an indent of the number listed as the directors’ and shareholders’ residential address remains on the letterbox outside the property, but not the number itself because the number has been removed from the letterbox.

The Companies Office spokesperson said, “The onus is on the board of directors of a company to ensure that all information provided to the Registrar of Companies is accurate. This includes a company’s address for service and a director’s (or shareholder’s) residential address. Providing false or misleading information to the Registrar is an offence under section 377 of the Companies Act 1993. The maximum penalty on conviction for this offence is a fine of $50,000 or imprisonment for a term of two years. You can find out more about our enforcement approach on our website, where you can also make a complaint if you have information concerning inaccurate information.”

Instead at the property number listed as the directors’ and shareholders’ address is a second letterbox which has been added to the north side of the driveway which has another street number. Increasing the layers of intrigue is the involvement of Horowhenua District Council which has listed the property in its rating database under the letterbox number that was added at a later date. A google earth map picture taken of the property clearly shows only one letterbox, the correct one, and now there are two letterboxes.

The Fairfield property information held on the local council’s rating database also conflicts with the Fairfield Road property information held on the Quotable Values (QV) database. Under the QV database the address for the same Fairfield Road property is listed under another street number again. Yes, keep up readers we now have three different street numbers for the same property. Suffice to say, if confusion is the aim, then Mr Clapperton and his wife have hit a home run.

Also refuting the statement made by Mr Clapperton that he and his wife were “not in the land development game” is the fact that both he and his wife own four land lots in total, three in the Horowhenua and one outside the district.

Mr Clapperton and his wife’s company Kai Tipu Ora Ltd are listed as the owners of the 1.4973 hectare residential property in Fairfield Road which has an RV of $750,000 yet sold for $1.3 million on 26 Oct 2016. Mr Clapperton and his wife are also listed as the owners of three other land lots including (a) a 4200 m2 (almost half a hectare) of vacant residential land in Ohau Terrace with a registered valuation (RV) of $226,000 where deputy mayor and land developer Wayne Bishop has his Ohau land development project (b) a 847 m2 lot at Himatangi Beach with a RV of $100,000 which was purchased for $32,000 on 24 October 2002 and, outside the district, 12.9 hectares in Rongotea Road, Kairanga which has a RV of $880,000 and was purchased on 12 Jun 2008 for $700,000.

Fairfield Road has seen an explosion in land development that corresponds with land development projects outlined in the Levin section of the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan. It is also where one of the biggest upgrades to the Levin stormwater system is taking place costing Horowhenua ratepayers a conservatively estimated $4.1 million.

According to the Ohau section of the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan (Part 9), Mr Clapperton’s 4200 hectare of bare land is situated in area 7 – Bishops Vineyard (Muhunoa East Road – south side) green belt residential zone. “This area is to the east of Ohau and has been an area experiencing a high degree of recent rural-residential development. The area is bordered by rural land to the north and east, Railway Terrace (residential development) to the west, and Muhunoa West Road (rural land) to the south. In the short term, new development would be serviced on-site, and in the long term connected to the Levin reticulated infrastructure networks.”

There have been 6 sales of residential vacant sites of land in Muhunoa East Road in the last 3 months including two others in Ohau Terraces on 25 September and 20 April.

Veronica Harrod is a qualified journalist with a Master of Communications specialising in traditional and new media content. Investigating and reporting on political, economic and legislative trends that negatively impact on the day to day lives of people is one of her main areas of interest. Lifestyle content she is interested in includes celebrating our own especially the tireless work community advocates do as civil citizens participating in democracy to keep those in power on their toes. In a media age dominated by a multi billion dollar communications and public relations industry paid to manipulate information to protect and advance the interests of the few over the many there have to be journalists who are impervious to the all pervasive influencial role they have over local and central government and corporate interests.

For more information on Veronica’s professional qualifications see her Facebook page.

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