Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tainui reports $24 million profit

Tainui's chairperson says the Waikato-based tribe's commercial arm has had a fantastic year.

In the year to the end of March, Tainui Group Holdings made a net surplus of $64 million dollars, down $5 million on the previous year because of property revaluations.

It will pay its shareholder, the Waikato-Tainui Lands Trust, a $10.5 million dividend.

Tukoroirangi Morgan says group assets grew to almost $380 million, up from $312 million last year.

He says the tribe's assets now stand at almost half a billion dollars.

“It has always been our belief that we have to grow the asset and the wealth and the capacity so that we can leave a legacy for those that come after us. We are now determined to carry on the good work. We’re much more focused and much more cautious about how we approach business. Our commercial company at $380 million provides the tribe with significant economic power base to operate from,” Mr Morgan says.

Since balance date Tainui Group Holdings has struck a deal to buy the Warehouse's half share in The Base retail complex at Te Rapa.

The $37 million deal will increase group assets to $415 million.

CUSTOM LAW HAS A USE

Non-Maori shouldn't fear the use of Maori custom in New Zealand courts.

That's the view of Richard Benton, one of the legal scholars behind a new compendium of Maori customary concepts.

Professor Benton, from Waikato Law School's Matahauariki Institute, says there are aspects of the way Maori have customarily thought about things which would be very beneficial to all New Zealanders.

“The idea of looking at the community, the ideas in justice relating to restorative justice, rather than simply punishing people as we seem to do very ineffectually, would have great benefit for all New Zealanders, and rather than having things to fear, they would have much to welcome,” Professor Benton says.

He says the Government lost an historic when it brought in the Foreshore and Seabed Act, which stopped a case which was trying to find out whether Maori custom law could assist in the allocation of coastal space for aquaculture.

SAMUELS BLASTS RUNANGA AGAIN

Associate Housing Minister Dover Samuels says Maori organisations could be doing a lot more to house their beneficiaries.

Only about 30 percent of Maori own homes, about half the Pakeha rate.

Mr Samuels says the people running land trusts, incorporations and runanga are too often concerned with dollars rather than people.

“Yes economic development is important also, but what I’m saying is that it’s just not good enough for the beneficiaries of those organisations that are responsible for the management of hundreds of thousands of acres, to set aside maybe 10 acres of 15 acres to occupy so they can build their homes,” Mr Samuels says.

With high freehold land prices, the only chance many Maori have of owning their own homes may be in building on land they already have shares in.

TREATY PROCESS FEARS FROM PM

The Prime Minister says the treaty settlement process could be derailed if Waitangi Tribunal recommendations are acted on.

The tribunal has criticised the way settlements were negotiated in Auckland and the Rotorua region in a way which excluded other iwi and hapu with interests in the same lands.

Helen Clark says the reports are the opinions of one judge.

“Those recommendations from that report actually throw a shadow over every settlement that’s been reached and potentially could throw a spoke in the wheels of every settlement that’s currently being negotiated and I understand that the Crown’s involved in negotiations with about 26 different iwi, so I think you’ll find that report gets a mixed response around Maoridom, because a lot of people have a lot of traction in their settlements, and that's terrific,” Ms Clark says.

She doesn't concede mistakes have been made.

The Waitangi Tribunal is in Rotorua this week hearing further claims against the way the Government intends to use forestry assets to settle some Te Arawa claims.

SOUTH AUCKLAND RATE DECRIED

The Unite Union says employers are taking advantage of the mainly Maori and Polynesian workforce in South Auckland.

National director Mike Treen says workers in the region are getting around $200 a week less than staff at competing firms elsewhere.

Workers have picketed the Independant Liquors site in Papakura seeking pay parity with other brewery workers.

Mr Treen says the company got away with paying lower rates because it was able to keep unions out.

“They pay what they call South Auckland rates, which in their minds is several hundred dollars less than other rates. We don’t think there is such a thing as South Auckland rates or a brown rate or Pacific Island rate or whatever else they seem to think there is. We think there should be a rate and it should be similar to what workers in the liquor industry get elsewhere,” Mr Treen says.

He says Independent Liquors has been sold to a private equity firm, who seem to think they can get some of their billion dollar stake back from low paid staff.

NZ FIRST DRAWS MAORI PARTY INTO IMMIGRATION FOLD

New Zealand first believes it has found an ally for its immigration policies.
Deputy leader Peter Brown says he agrees with the Maori Party that more New Zealanders should have a say in who settles here.

The Maori Party has focused on the whether the Treaty of Waitangi should give Maori some oversight of immigration, but Mr Brown says all permanent residents should have input into such decisions.

“The Maori Party as I recall it a few years ago were decrying Winston Peters in particular and our party for our stance on immigration so it’s quite pleasing to see that they’ve seen there is potentially a huge problem and they want to put some rules in place and they want to have a part in how it all happens,” Mr Brown says.

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