Auckland Council reviews conflicts of interest claim at property arm Eke Panuku


Auckland Council has begun an external review of potential conflicts of interest at the board level of its property development arm, Eke Panuku.

Consultants PwC are looking at the management of conflicts of interest in property deals, following a complaint from the commercial arm of central Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua.

The council said in a June response to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa Ltd, that it took the management of conflicts of interest seriously and was also notifying the Auditor General and the council’s own Audit and Risk chair.

The iwi company was at pains in correspondence not to name particular directors, but focused on the process of appointing directors who might have recurring conflicts in the property sector.

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“If appointees to the board of Pānuku regularly enter into material transactions with Pānuku, then the concerns raised in our letter are inevitable, whatever processes and procedures are implemented by Pānuku,” said Grant Kemble, the chief executive of NWOWRL.

The iwi company listed eight transactions since 2015 that involved a potential conflict of interest, and added to that list the sale this year of a large site in Avondale for high-density housing.

Kemble argued that deal was announced subsequent to its complaint and should have been put on hold until the outcome of the PwC work was known.

Five of the nine deals it submitted included Paul Majurey, Eke Pānuku’s chairman, who also has commercial interests in other iwi entities

Part of a town centre redevelopment by Eke Panuku in Avondale.

Eke Panuku/Stuff

Part of a town centre redevelopment by Eke Panuku in Avondale.

NWOWRL and Ngai Tahu were both unsuccessful in the Avondale tender process, with the sale going to an alliance of apartment builder Ockham, and multi-iwi collective Marutūāhu, which Majurey is connected to.

In the Avondale deal, Pānuku had aggregated land-holdings to create a residential development site adjacent to a proposed town centre, and had sought a developer to take it on.

The chair of NWOWRL, Michael Stiassny wrote that having missed out on Avondale, it sought feedback and was told Pānuku favoured maximum housing density, which hadn’t been signalled earlier.

“[This] may clearly create an advantage for any parties who, through a relationship with Pānuku or otherwise, had knowledge of the density objectives of this development,” wrote Stiassny to the council.

In the timeframe indicated by Auckland Council, the PwC investigation should be completed by now.