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Gentleman’s agreement waterfront landholding goes on the market for sale

Tags: Rural

A large harbourside chunk of former farm land bought over a handshake at the local pub by a truckie who stopped in at the bar for a quick pint has been placed on the market for sale.

The 40-hectare lifestyle block of land at Paparoa on the northern shores of the Kaipara Harbour just north of Auckland was bought by trucking firm owner Howard Smith in 1973.

Smith – who at the time was operating a trucking firm in the Waikato township of Morrinsville – was making a delivery to Northland when he stopped into the Paparoa Hotel for a pie and a pint.

During banter with local Paparoa farmer Alan Tee in the bar, Smith was offered a 100-hectare dairy farm for a price which proverbially sounded “too good to be true.”

However, after Howard Smith finished lunch he took a detour out of the scheduled delivery route and visited Alan Tee’s property before later returning to the Paparoa Hotel and settling the deal with a handshake over another beer.

Over the ensuing decades, the original 100-hectare dairy farm has morphed’ considerably – reverting to a bull farm in the 1990s before gradually being subdivided into lifestyle blocks and sold down in portions.

Now the final remaining 40-hectare landholding has been placed on the market for sale by tender through Bayleys Whangarei. Tenders close on April 20. Bayleys Whangarei salesperson Alex Smits said Howard Smith’s handshake deal was a legend around Northern Kaipara region.

“Howard Smith only dealt with people he trusted, and he did a lot of deals settled with a handshake. For example, in the early days Howard partnered with his sharemilker over a handshake.

“Doug is still leasing the property as a bull run some 20 years later, even after Howard’s death. He had a lot of respect in the local community.”

Mr Smits said that while the farm could continue to be let as a bull fattening operation, it would most likely be further subdivided into smaller four-hectare lifestyle plots. The 40-hectare property comprises three separate land titles of 33, three and four hectares each.

“Part of the property edges onto the Kaipara Harbour. With consented reconfiguration of the titles, the existing waterfront block could potentially be realigned create water views for multiple sections,” he said.

The largest of the three blocks houses the farm’s original four-bedroom villa. The property also contains multiple other farm buildings and barns – all connected to power - along with a boat shed.

“We believe the property will most likely be bought by Aucklanders looking for a commutable ‘bolt hole’ weekend retreat. It could continue to be run as a leased dry stock block, but the most value would be derived from further subdivision,” Mr Smits said.

“However, while Howard’s handshake legend lives on around Paparoa, all tenders for the land now must formally be in writing,” quipped Mr Smits.

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