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How do major iwi interests fare with Fonterra?

How do major iwi interests fare with Fonterra? asks Maori Party

Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia, Co-leaders of the Maori Party

Friday 16 November 2007

The Maori Party has reacted with caution to the ‘bold, brave plan’ put forward by Fonterra to list on the stock exchange.

“We are interesting in learning how the proposal to change the capital structure will impact on the working lives of the 12,000 Maori working in the farming sector” said Dr Pita Sharples, Maori Party Spokesperson for Economic Development.

“We believe that future prosperity for tangata whenua is tied to the productivity and protection of the whenua – and as such any initiatives which may advance sustainable farming must be considered carefully” said Dr Sharples.

Tangata whenua are major stakeholders in the agribusiness sector, and some Maori agribusiness operations are performing exceedingly well, commercially.

“There are major iwi interests in many successful sheep and cattle farming enterprises” said Dr Sharples. “And we know that Maori trusts, runanga and incorporations are significant shareholders in the Fonterra Co-operative, and it is extremely important to hear from them”.

“As a former dairy farmer myself I know how important it is to be open to all possibilities to achieve growth” said Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

“We are worried that in seeking a share-market listing the concern is that farmers would lose control to overseas interests or big money interests, and the autonomy of our indigenous market would end up being compromised by foreign control”.

“The key priority for us, will be to be informed by the Maori specific hui which are to be held to discuss the capital share structure” said Mrs Turia.

“Our thinking on the Fonterra fortune will be informed by the interests of Maori and iwi stakeholders, and we look forward to hearing from them, about how their interests will be protected - or not – by the company’s strategy”.

“When the changes have been thoroughly debated and consensus achieved, it is vital that the changes are secured through the process of legislation” ended Dr Sharples.

Hui are being held in Whangarei and Hamilton (26 November); Rotorua and Hawera (27 November) and Christchurch (28 November).

ENDS

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