ZUI: Settlement and Economic Opportunities

Sep 18, 2020 | latest

Kia ora whānau 

Our panel of amazing Whakatōhea speakers got together for our last ZUI to discuss Settlement and Economic opportunities. This was a good insight into what a lot of our whānau’s aspirations were, things like education, reo revitalisation, jobs to create opportunities to move back to Ōpōtiki and as one of our panellists said “my aspirations for Settlement is to have a happy healthy and wealthy tribe both spiritually, economically and for the Settlement to be a continuing spark for us in a thousand years” 

The ZUI focused on economic opportunities and how the $100m pūtea , if invested wisely, could contribute to better outcomes for whanau, hapū and the Iwi. The marine space alone, once developed, will be worth more than the settlement itself and would also position Whakatōhea as an innovator and leader in the Aquaculture space. 

The initial Whakatōhea settlement negotiations occurred at the time Ngai Tahu and Tainui were also negotiating their settlements. One advantage of turning down the settlement offer at that time is that we can learn from all the other Iwi who are in the post-settlement phase. Learn from their successes, but also learn from their mistakes, specifically around investments and distributions. 

Selwyn Hayes, a partner at EY has been working on Iwi Settlements for 18 years and says that the biggest learning over that time is how to create success at a whānau level. He says in previous Iwi settlements, there has certainly been success at an Iwi level through clever investments, but how do you then turn that success in to real change and benefit to Whakatōhea whānau?

It’s about taking a long-term approach to health and wellbeing, enabling whānau to look after themselves, not making them reliant on anything or anyone. Examples of where this has worked effectively are initiatives like what Ngai Tahu or Orakei have created by supporting whānau into financial independence through their savings schemes. 

From a wealth creation perspective, one component of investing is being able to operate at scale and ensuring that there is enough in the kete to enable the Iwi to invest in the things that they believe in. An example of this was when Tainui were in the initial stages of developing The Base shopping centre in Hamilton. Everyone was against efforts to rezone the land and stop the development, however because Tainui had the financial capability, they were big enough to take the Council to Court and win. Now they have an incredibly healthy investment as a key foundation of their impressive financial portfolio. 

Richard Jefferies who sits on the Raukawa Iwi Board, says its about building capability. Raukawa is 11 years post settlement, and when they first received their redress, they outsourced their commercial arm to an external agency. This decision has proved successful and allowed them time to build capability in their own whānau slowly, and over time, but gain the immediate benefits of external experience and the considerable growth of their assets.

Another pearl of wisdom from Selwyn Hayes when asked effective ways of distributing funds to hapū and marae. “Capacity building has to be the pathway to get there, as the saying goes, a piece of wood cut up is easier to burn. When you are distributing funds, it is harder to gain from scale the benefit of that resource and so we need to be careful on how and when we split the funds up, otherwise we might miss out on benefits once it is split up”. 

Being innovative on how resources and investments are managed, was another key theme throughout the discussion. Trust negotiator Maui Hudson discussed the opportunities for hapū to manage specific whenua, in more ways than just from an environmental perspective. Economic opportunities had been discussed for different parts of the whenua that will be returned. Examples like establishing a hunting or well being lodge. The hapū could ensure the resource was being effectively looked after, in addition to creating viable business ventures for that hapū. 

Ultimately, what these discussions do is open space for dialogue, ideas and best practise. How Whakatōhea can and will do things better. All panellists agreed that the creation of wealth has a purpose. To give back to Whakatōhea, not just to make the entity wealthy. 

The economic opportunity is just the means of achieving all our whānau aspirations, hapū aspirations and iwi aspirations. What we do with it, and how it in turn makes Whakatōhea whānau happy and healthy is what matters most.  

He aha te mea nui o tea ao? 
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world? 
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people. 

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