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Māori economy - Balancing real tensions of $10bn in assets

Media Release

BALANCING REAL TENSIONS OF $10BN IN ASSETS

18 November 2016

It’s becoming an increasingly difficult balancing act for those tasked with managing the $10 billion-plus in assets that form part of the Māori economy in the hands of Iwi and Hapū, Chapman Tripp says.

Chapman Tripp is speaking today (18 November) at Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa Hui a Tau in Queenstown.

“The establishment of large, asset-rich Māori corporates from Treaty of Waitangi settlements means the Māori economy is growing rapidly, with recent reports claiming the niche economy is worth over $40 billion – 30% of which is held by Māori collectives and 70% held by Māori employers and self-employed Māori people,” Chapman Tripp’s Hoa Rangapū Whakarae (Chief Executive Partner) – and Kaihautū o Te Waka Ture, the firm’s Māori Legal Group – Nick Wells said.

“More than $10 billion in assets are held and managed by governors of Iwi and Hapū for the benefit of others, and many of them must balance the real tensions of being relevant for Māori in need today, as well as provisioning for future generations.”

Some of the tensions include how much money is spent on cultural revival and wellbeing versus how much is reinvested for financial growth, Wells said.

“Other factors that are taken into account include appetite for risk and expectations of – and accountability to – iwi and hapu members.

“For example, PSGEs (post settlement governance entities) have to balance their commercial arm – which includes management and administration of assets and commercial activities of subsidiaries – with the needs of their people or their community arm, which might include charitable purposes, tikanga, reo, kawa and korero and community facilities.”

Governors are grappling with a number of key issues that have become more pronounced recently, Wells said.

“Concerns facing governors include how they can provide social and affordable housing in a heated market, how they can make the best use of underutilised and/or landlocked Māori land and how they can involve those Iwi and hapu members who are disengaged. Another issue for them is whether or not to make cash distributions, and – if so – how to structure them.”

Interactions, often public, between the Iwi and the Crown on issues around Housing, Fisheries, the Kermadecs and the Crown’s treatment of cross claims have all demonstrated the impact of these tensions – some of which have found their way to the Courts, Wells said.

“All this leads to a fundamental need to develop, nurture and lift the aspirations of youth to be ready to take governance roles in the future.

“Done well this will boost not only Māori and the Māori economy but Aotearoa/New Zealand as a whole.”

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