From Veronica Harrod
Last month Horowhenua deputy mayor Wayne Bishop’s land and property development company was sold 2.7 hectares next to land earmarked for transfer to the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust.
On 2 November Wayne Bishop Investment Ltd purchased half a hectare of a former industrial site at 56-62 Cambridge Street South for $480,000 and 2.7 hectares of land behind it for $360,000. It is the first time the 2.7 hectare block has been sold.
The 2.7 hectare of land now owned by Cr Bishop’s company is directly beside 7.6 hectares of public land owned by Horowhenua District Council at 72 Cambridge Street South earmarked for sale in Council’s November 2015 Property Strategy.
Last year Council voted to establish what it referred to as an “economic development trust” called the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust (HNZT) and transfer up to 40 percent of public assets to the trust as “seed capital” which includes the 72 Cambridge Street South site.
The Cambridge Street acquisitions are in close proximity to three other land purchases by Cr Bishop’s land and property development company in Hinemoa and Liverpool Street totalling almost 12 hectares of prime real estate.
Almost one hectare in Hinemoa Street has a rateable value of just $165,000 but a Capital Value of $1.2 million.
The valuation of Cr Bishop’s Speldhurst development, being built in stages on the 48 hectare former Kimberley Hospital site, increased by 430 percent in 2016 from $3.8 million to $20.3 million. The site is still listed as “leasehold land” on Quotable Values database, “meaning someone else has a freehold interest in the property.”
Cr Bishop was deputy chair of the Economic Development Board (EDB) and six former board members are now all trustees of the HNZT.
Since six members of the EDB were named as trustees Council has removed all references to the EDB from its website although there has been no formal announcement the board has been dis-established.
On 18 October 2018, five months after HNZT was registered, a financial services company called The Horowhenua Company was established naming all but one trustee of HNZT as shareholders.
Former EDB chair and trustee of HNZT Cameron Lewis is a director and a shareholder of The Horowhenua Company.
The other shareholders include former EDB members and trustees of HNZT Antony Young, Evan Kroll, Larry Ellison and Ron Turk.
The majority of councillors voted in support of Council’s chief executive officer David Clapperton assisting the trust but voted against Mayor Michael Feyen being involved.
The author further comments:
The public have not been provided with any information since the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust was registered on 31 May. Has land already been sold or transferred to the trust? Council’s chief executive David Clapperton has made conflicting statements. He initially said the public would be consulted. But then he released information that stated the public did not have to be consulted on the sale of $28 million property because it was “non-core” property; not significant or “core” property. Has 72 Cambridge Street South already been transferred to the trust? What other property has been transferred? A Stuff article of 28 June [five months ago] states “the first group of properties are expected to be transferred in the next few months.” The public were assured the trust structure included accountability however the public have seen little of that. Instead it appears the public know little to nothing that is apparently being done on the community’s behalf as a charitable trust.