The leader behind a syndicate that has had to withdraw from purchasing iconic Mangaohane Station has promised to help the local Māori Trust keep it out of pines.
The Forever Farming NZ Syndicate was forced to pull out this week, after discovering two Waitangi Tribunal claims were lodged on the iconic 4,800-hectare station.
One claim was for the crown to purchase the station to settle previous grievances while the other was to formalise passage through the station to land the Māori Trust owned at the rear of the property which was not accessible.
Mike Barham told REX Today he was absolutely gobsmacked to have found out about the claims on the property that had not been disclosed by the real estate agents.
"My only issue is that I was never told about this, we never would've gone near it if we had known there was a Treaty of Waitangi claim on the land," Barham said.
Unsure if it was a deliberate omission, he said he was trying to get to the bottom of it and called it hugely embarrassing and devastating.
"I'm not going to take legal action, I just want an honest answer as to where this muck up has happened because it's cost us a lot of money," he said.
"We've had legal bills, accountancy bills, presentation of IM's, people have travelled all over the country for this and I was always going to pay that, that's not a problem but they have really upset a lot of people."
The Māori Trust which had lodged the claims were even interested investors in the syndicate which was how Barham discovered the claims.
He visited the Māori Trust chairman and his wife to learn more about the history of the property and called them the loveliest people you would ever meet.
"I soon realised that we just couldn't introduce our 100-odd people into this scenario," he said.
He was devastated to find comments on social media from local iwi calling the Station stolen land and others asking for the new owners to redress issues of the past.
"These are their rights, I am absolutely emphatic that no blame should be placed on them," he said.
"They've got 6,000 hectares behind Mangaohane that's landlocked, now that's just not blimmin fair that that's the case, that should never have happened. These stories of pa sites being burnt down and all those sorts of things, it's just not fair."
He promised the Māori Trust he would help them and do everything he could to keep the farm out of forestry and carbon sequestration which was the syndicate's main goal.
He said informing all the investors they had no choice but to back out of the syndicate was one of the hardest things he's ever had to do.
"It is one of the most gut-wrenching things as a farmer and a business guy. You actually go into lots of things that don't eventuate but we were here with this job, we may have even had to scale back the amount of money that people could put in, it was going so well," Barham said.
Despite pulling out, a number of investors had made it clear they were still in and invested in the cause of keeping iconic sheep and beef farms out of forestry.
Listen to the full interview with Forever Farming NZ founder Mike Barham and REX Today above.
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