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The Ruapehu Roundabout continues -Iwi collective plan for RAL still live?

NEWS UPDATE 📰

An iwi collective’s plan to assume control of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) appears less likely to materialize, given the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment’s (MBIE) decision to place RAL into receivership in October. Ta Ao Māori News reported on Monday about the iwi collective’s intentions, stating that it “has plans to take over management of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts.” However, insights suggest that this information follows discussions among four iwi around the Tongariro National Park, held on September 11. Subsequently, the government considered two options: receivership and sale of the skifields or negotiating with the iwi collective. With RAL now in receivership, the iwi collective’s option seems less likely.

The financial challenges for RAL began when it entered voluntary administration owing $45 million. Despite attempts to rescue the company, it ultimately went into liquidation after creditors rejected various options at a June meeting. The government opted to support RAL through the ski season while seeking buyers, culminating in the selection of Pure Tūroa Ltd and Whakapapa Holdings Limited as preferred bidders. The four iwi involved in the collective initiative are Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngati Hāua, Ngati Rangi, and Te Korowai o Te Wainuiārua.

Aiden Gilbert of Te Korowai o Te Wainuiārua explained that discussions among the collective began after a meeting with Te Arawhiti last year. The decision to form a collective emerged during a meeting in Taupo, where iwi representatives decided to collaborate for the well-being of the maunga (mountain). Gilbert emphasized the collective’s proactive outreach to garner overwhelming support from those involved in the Tongariro National Park settlement.

Receivership for RAL was appointed last month by Crown Regional Holdings, with receivers Brendon Gibson and Neale Jackson. According to PwC New Zealand’s final liquidation report, the company owes unsecured creditors, including Crown Regional Holdings and ANZ Bank, $39.5 million. Gilbert criticized the government’s financial support, stating that the lack of a clear plan led to RAL’s receivership despite recent loans.

MBIE Regional Economic and Development Unit Kanoa head Robert Pigou defended the receivership decision, emphasizing its consideration for the communities affected by Mt Ruapehu operations. Pigou explained that placing RAL into receivership provides time to decide on its future for the communities’ lasting benefit. The government’s additional loan funding of $4.3 million supports RAL until further decisions are made. The decision to place RAL into receivership was influenced by the legal constraints on its operation in liquidation.

Gilbert highlighted the complex interplay with RAL’s concession and proposed a new concession if RAL were to be replaced. The collective’s proposal to Te Arawhiti, MBIE, and the Department of Conservation as an alternative option was presented at a meeting earlier this year.

Text courtsey Robert Milne ruapehubulletin.co.nz

 

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