Ownership and key documents

Information Victoria’s acquisition of Crown-owned land/buildings and key decision documents outlining process.

Victoria’s acquisition of Crown-owned land/buildings

In April 2010, the Government announced a new policy for the management of Crown-owned assets (land and buildings) by tertiary education institutions (TEIs). The policy allowed TEIs to apply to acquire title to Crown-owned land and buildings that the TEI managed and for which it had an ongoing use. TEIs were also allowed to apply for the Crown to sell Crown-owned assets where these were surplus to the TEI’s needs. The TEI would receive at least 80 percent of the proceeds of such sales.

The new policy allowed TEIs, as autonomous institutions, to “manage their own assets in the way they best believe supports their institution in achieving its goals” and to “manage their capital strategically and efficiently”. The policy expressly stated that it will “make it easier for TEIs managing Crown-owned property to maximise the value of their capital assets by acquiring legal ownership of Crown assets for which they have an ongoing educational need, and disposing of assets that are surplus to their needs”.

Victoria University was one of twenty-five institutions that subsequently applied for Crown assets to be transferred into its name. Victoria’s application covered forty titles (approximately 100 properties) that were used by the University, including four titles in Karori, and was made in September, 2010.

Victoria’s application advised that all the assets (including the Karori campus) would be required by Victoria to deliver its education programmes and research. At the time of the application, more than five years ago, the Karori campus was actively used for educational purposes. Had Victoria determined that there was no ongoing educational need for Crown-owned land used by the University, including the Karori campus, Victoria could have applied for the Crown to sell that asset and pay at least 80 percent of the proceeds to Victoria.

In its application, Victoria was clear about its intensity of space use when compared to other New Zealand universities and the need to make the most effective use of its current asset portfolio. The application stated that the University’s asset portfolio is under constant review and may be reconfigured in the future.

Victoria received confirmation of Ministerial approval of its application in September 2011 and this was documented in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education (MoE) in April, 2012.

Transferring titles to TEIs took far longer than expected (the initial anticipated timeframe was twelve to twenty-four months from application) as the various organisations involved worked to process the transfer of hundreds of titles from twenty-five TEIs.

As a result, Victoria’s titles were progressively transferred from December 2014 to December 2015 (with all Karori titles transferred by April 2015). This process was completed five years after the initial application was submitted and Victoria paid a nominal amount for the transfer, as did all other TEIs.

During this period, the role of the Karori campus continued to be reviewed. In August 2016, the Victoria University of Wellington Council decided that the campus was no longer required for the University’s current or future needs.

Key documents

Read the report that informed Victoria’s decision on Karori campus

The decision to declare the Karori campus surplus to requirements followed an independent strategic review of the campus by PwC completed in August 2016 and able to be viewed below.

Council members were advised in the report that if a decision was made to declare the property surplus, a number of matters would need further consideration.

A covering memo to Council members from the University’s senior leadership staff also noted that the University is very conscious of the wider community interest in the campus and that there were potential future public use options that need to be explored.

Some material in the PwC report has been removed because of its commercially sensitive nature.

Treaty settlements and the Karori campus

There are no outstanding Treaty settlements that could require the Karori campus land to be retained for Treaty settlement purposes, and the land is not subject to Right of First Refusal (RFR) under existing Treaty settlement legislation.

However, whilst there is no statutory RFR on the land, Victoria University has been in discussions with the iwi of Wellington—Taranaki Whanui—through their Chief Executive Jason Fox, keeping them informed of developments. The University has also held many wider discussions regarding the sale with other Māori interests.

The Kaupapa and Mauri of Ako Pai Marae were acknowledged and brought to Victoria’s Kelburn campus at a ceremony held on 12 August 2016.