The sale of failed Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre campus and farm is under negotiation and it appears the centre could remain an educational centre.
Five years after the centre collapsed, liquidators Grant Thornton said they have issued a sale and purchase agreement to an unnamed party for the purchase of the Wairarapa campus and Home Dairy Farm.
The party “has expressed interest in the purchase of the land and we believe this party meets the requirements for government approval to purchase the land”, the liquidators write in their ninth report, released last month.
“Such approval will be subject to a requirement for education to be continued on the Home Farm.”
The liquidators initially determined that 1194 unsecured creditors were jointly owed $15.9 million. To date they have received 247 unsecured creditors’ claims totalling $15.2m.
Any sale is subject to legislation set out in the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre (Wairarapa) Act of 1969, requiring the approval of the minister of agriculture.
In 2021 the liquidators sought a High Court judgment on the status and saleability of the campus land in order to pay creditors.
The court found the land could be sold subject to ministerial approval.
“Following the court directions, we have continued to engage with the government to find an acceptable landowner for the purposes of the Taratahi Act and who can provide commercial value for the benefit of all creditors,” the report says.
Following settlement of the Taratahi land, the liquidators intend addressing the future of the Telford Farms in South Otago, part of a sister agricultural training centre that was operated by the Southern Institute of Technology before the polytechnic reforms.
“We have also been in discussions with the Tertiary Education Commission [TEC] and Ministry for Primary Industries [MPI] regarding the Telford farming operations.
“It is our intention that following the settlement of any sale at the Home Campus we would look to transition our operation of the Telford Farms to an agreed party.”
In the meantime, the liquidators continue to operate the Telford dairy, beef and sheep farms and the Taratahi Home Dairy Farm.
For the six months to February 6, income was $2.4m, of which $1.89m came from milk and $300,000 from trading livestock.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said he is “absolutely committed to an outcome that secures Taratahi as an iconic and modern education facility for agriculture on an ongoing basis”.
He said the MPI and the TEC are working closely with the liquidators to find a long-term solution to secure sustainable agricultural education at Taratahi. O’Connor said he cannot discuss future ownership of the Taratahi farm for commercial reasons.