So, how is Atamai structured?
As I understand it ...
Atamai land is currently owned by the Atamai Land Trust (or ALT) which has 3 people as its settlors and trustees, they are the ones who have injected capital into the project thus far (Jurgen, Jack and Ben). The beneficiary of ALT is an incorporated society called the Atamai Village Council (or AVC). It’s a non-profit membership based model which allows for the communal ownership of the commons land, and any financial gain returned from that land is used to maintain and pay for improvements to that land (eg. fruit ocharding, vegetable and animal farming, village centre development etc). In essence the purchaser of an Atamai plot will become a co-owner of the commons land via membership to the AVC, which is a condition placed as a covenant on the section being sold. If that section is to be sold again in the future, that covenant will still be in place to ensure that the commons share ownership is transferred to the new owner. Legally the land owned by ALT can never be sold in whole or part to any other entity in perpetuity. The cost of the AVC membership is added to the price of the section, which is in the region of 60-70K. This makes the section prices appear to be bloated for the square area, but it is important to note that it includes common land parcels which have had work done on them to make them viable for food production. This is the essence of Atamai which contributes to its model of a sustainable village, with food security and the reduction of food miles at the fore front of its agenda.
Atamai Developers Limited (or ADL) is a limited liability company setup as a separate entity to develop and market the sections that are to be sold (ALT nor AVC are the right structure to do this in). This company has 3 directors (same as above, Ben is the managing director) and with ALT as the only share holder. When the purchaser buys a land from Atamai, it is conveyed from ALT to the purchaser (facilitated by ADL).
Complicated huh? :)
This is partly for risk mitigation and also because NZ law doesn’t cover the common land ownership model, as found in the UK for instance (where it is very mature and goes back some ~100s of years). Using the model of an incorporated society seems the best fit to work around this. Atamai did start with a charitable trust, but it turns out that was not a good move and they had to change over. The current structure however seems a more legally robust method for representing the aims set out by Atamai’s founders.
Phew … I hope I have that all correct. As a disclaimer, this is a private blog so note that I don’t represent Atamai in any way and these mutterings are my words as a potential land purchaser and currently a “rental” villager. Make direct contact formally with Atamai to verify for yourself any questions you might have.