Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Owners denied chance to buy back CHH leases

Maori forestry owners are disappointed billionaire Graeme Hart refused them a chance to buy back their forest leases.

Almost 20 percent of the 275,000 hectare Carter Holt Harvey forest estate being put up for sale by Mr Hart is on Maori land or Crown forest leases.

Glen Katu, director of Te Kuiti-based Kokakotaea Forestry Group, says owning the forests outright would give landowners more opportunities to extract value through downstream processing.

Mr Katu says Maori success in recent years with other forest holdings means they could have raised the money for the leases, but there is no way they could bid for the whole estate.

“It's a pity though we didn’t get the opportunity before Carter Holt Harvey decided to put their total forest estate up as one lot because we’re one of a number of Maori incorporations and trusts that have the ability and the capacity now to do financial transactions of the scale required to purchase back our leases, and they're not cheap,” Katu said.

Glen Katu says families within the Kokakotaea Forestry Group see their investments as being about hundreds of years rather than short term planting cycles.


A south Auckland Maori leader says government initiatives to address social problems in Maori communities are doomed to failure without sufficient Maori input.

June Jackson says while there may be goodwill on the government's part, the agencies charged with implementing initiatives have too few Maori in decision making roles.

She says that could lead to a lack of Maori buy in.

“I don't know that there’s any right answer. I think that the government attempts to try top make a difference, but when you only have mainly Pakeha advisors designing programmes for us and others, they will never get it right, never,” Jackson said.


Auckland University Business School's outstanding Maori business person of the year says he's hearterned by the growing numbers of Maori entering the commercial sector.

Rob McLeod from Ngati Porou chairs the Business Roundtable and sits on the boards of Sealord, Sky City, Tainui Group Holdings, ANZ National Bank and several other companies.

He is a tax specialist and former chair of accounting firm Ernst and Young.
Mr McLeod says Maori in business used to be a rare commodity, but that's not the case now.

“As time has come on there are more and more Mari graduates and more and more Maori people coming into the sector, and I think that can be only a good thing for people who have Mari connections or are looking to have company in that social sector in terms of Maori opportunities and Maori people,” McLeod said.

Rob McLeod says in the post settlement environment, Maori increasingly need people with both commercial expertise and Maori cultural understanding.


A Te Kuiti-based Maori forester says the likely sale of Carter Holt Harvey's forest estate to overseas owners is a lost opportunity for Maori landowners.
Carter Holt owner Graeme Hart has put all 275 thousand hectares up for sale as one lot.

Glen Katu, a director of Te Kuiti based Kokakotaea Forestry Corporation, says Maori landowners asked Mr Hart to split off their leases and Crown forest licences, which account for almost 20 percent of the estate.

“We thought it would entice them to say yes, if you can come up with 300 or 400 million dollars, could be roughly the price. Rally the only companies that can afford one or two billion dollars are the offshore companies,” Katu said.

Glen Katu says Maori landowners are able to get more value out of foresty if they can own the forests themselves and have greater control of downstream processesing.


The Maori Womens Welfare League will be welcomed to Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia today for its four day annual conference.

President Linda Grennell says it's time to look at issues affecting Maori beyond our shores as well as at home.

Ms Grennell says that's why the hui will hear from Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters Tuwharetoa leader Tumu Mr Heuheu, in his capacity as Chair of the UNESCO World Heritage Council.

Other speakers include Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia, Tainui MP Nanaia Mahuta and Womens Affairs Minister Lianne Dalziel.


Manaukau Urban Maori Authority head June Jackson says Maori in South Auckland struggle to have meaningful input into policies aimed at addressing social problems in the community.

The Government is looking at improving and better coordinating its services to the region in light of rising violence and social dysfunction.

Mrs Jackson says if they are to succeed, any new programmes will need the support of Maori.

She says that will be hard to achieve since so few Maori are actually making the decisions.


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