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‘Abandoned’ land at Mahia claimed

Three plots of “abandoned” land near the booming beach settlement of Mahia have been claimed.

The Wairoa District Council put out a public notice looking for the owner of the land in Nuhaka this week, after rates hadn't been paid for at least three years and it had been unable to make contact with the owner.

If the land wasn't claimed and the outstanding rates paid within a month, the council would apply to the District Court to declare the land abandoned, the notice said.

The court can authorise the sale or lease of abandoned land.

But after publication of the notice, the owner made contact with the council.

This meant the owner was no longer “uncontactable” and therefore the council could not continue with the abandoned land process.

The land is situated in Nuhaka, a small settlement between Wairoa and Gisborne, and 15 minutes drive from Mahia, where a property last year sold for a record $1.83 million.

The council was also advertising a plot of abandoned land for sale by tender in the Wairoa township.

Wairoa District Council interim chief executive officer Kitea Tipuna said the abandoned land process was carried out by councils across New Zealand.

“Often by placing the first advertisement the property owner is alerted and contacts the council,” he said.

Debt Management Central had been engaged by the council to tender out the abandoned land in the township.

Its website showed past listings for abandoned properties in Wairoa, Napier and the Rangitikei district in early 2019.

Mr Tipuna said advertisements of the council's intention to have land declared as abandoned were “infrequent” and often resulted in repayment arrangements.

“Abandoned land and rating sales are a final step in the process of recovering unpaid rates.

“Often the process can reconnect property owners with Council to enable payments structures to be put in place which is a desirable outcome.

“While there can be overlapping definitions around contactability, the driver of this method is that rates have not been paid on a property for three or more years and the process enables Council to attempt to recover these outstanding rates.”

The process for dealing with abandoned land began with the local authority referring a case where the rates had been unpaid for more than three years to a debt collection agency.

The agency gives public notice of its intent to have the land declared abandoned.

One month after the notice, the council can apply to the District Court for an order declaring the land abandoned and granting an order to sell or lease the land.

The owner of the land in Nuhaka was approached for comment.