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Ngai Tahu Introduces Savings Scheme for Whanau

18 August 2006

Media release
Ngai Tahu Introduces Savings Scheme for Whanau

Ngai Tahu whanau can look forward to a more financially secure future, thanks to a new savings programme being introduced by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.

Whai Rawa, believed to be a world first, was launched in Christchurch today by the Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr Michael Cullen.

“Whai Rawa is a long term savings scheme to support whänau independence by increasing personal wealth,” says Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon.

“Whai Rawa will enable us to distribute the treaty settlement, that we have been growing for the last few years, to our whanau. We believe it is the only indigenous programme of its type in the world. By introducing the scheme we are truly supporting our vision Mö tätou, a, mö, kä uri ä muri ake nei – for us and our children after us.”

Whai Rawa is about supporting people who want to save for tertiary education, home ownership and for their retirement. The savings scheme officially starts in October this year, although people can register at any time. “Of course, the earlier in their lives that they register, the more they’ll be able to save for their retirement,” says Mr Solomon.

“Each year Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu will make an annual distribution and whanau can choose to save their own money too, and if they do this we’ll match their savings up to a specified level each year.”

Retirement Commissioner and Chair of Whai Rawa Fund Limited Diana Crossan says the Whai Rawa portfolio will be prudently managed. “We have said that the investment profile must be conservative to protect whanau savings, as well as giving them a reasonably consistent level of return while not exposing the fund to major losses that higher risk investments are exposed to,” she says.

At the launch, Dr Cullen said Whai Rawa was an initiative that arose out of careful reflection within Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu on the long term issues affecting the well being of its many members. “Those issues included a need to improve financial literacy and wealth management skills and to ensure that future generations of kaumätua and kuia achieve a greater degree of financial security and independence in their old age.”

Dr Cullen said building and managing wealth was an essential set of skills and that all New Zealanders needed to wake up to.

He said there were some key social and economic forces that led to the launch of Whai Rawa:

- the issue faced by many New Zealanders of maintaining a savings habit while trying to deal with the normal pressures of responsibility of raising children and caring for parents and other whanau.

- the long process of putting right historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Crown – including breaches that undermined the economic strength of Maori.

“That process has restored to many tribes their mana, their ancestral land and taonga, where possible and their ability to attain economic and self determination,” says Dr Cullen.

“Ngai Tahu was one of the first out of the blocks and one of the first to encounter what many have come to realise since: that the process is one that will take several generations to complete and that it involves not returning to some golden era of the past, but equipping members of the tribe to stand tall in a modern, technologically advanced and highly globalised economy.

“Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu has over the last 15 or so years won considerable praise for its sound governance and its consistent focus on creating long term sustainable value. I trust that Whai Rawa will be a further extension to the many ways in which Ngai Tahu takes care of its own and builds, slowly but surely a better future for successive generations,” Dr Cullen says.

ENDS

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