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Friday, December 24, 2010

Aotearoa Fisheries pays maiden dividend

Maori-owned Aotearoa Fisheries has paid its first dividend to iwi shareholders.

Aotearoa Fisheries represents the big compromise at the heart of the deal which ended debate over allocation of Maori fisheries settlement assets.

Rather than break up all the assets and divvy them among the tribes, the half share in Sealord and the other fishing companies, including inshore fishing company Moana Pacific, paua exporter Prepared Foods, and oyster producers Kia Ora Seafoods and Pacific Marine Farms, were put under a single umbrella.

Aotearoa Fisheries was given six years to reinvest profits to build up a stable and growing business, but now it has to pay dividends based on an ambitious rate of return.

Over the past year it made a profit of $18.9 million despite difficult trading conditions.

It declared a dividend of $9.4 million, resulting in an after tax payment of $7.5M to the 52 iwi shareholders and Te Ohu Kaimonana Trustee, which is holding the money for the four iwi yet to finalise mandates.

The dividend will help iwi put a value on their shares, and reinforce the sense of collective solidarity that part of the settlement aimed to achieve.

JOB, NOT FLAGS IN LABOUR PLAN

List MP Shane Jones says Labour intends to win back Maori voters with practical ideas rather than meaningless symbols.

He says its policies will focus on real issues for Maori families like jobs and the cost of living.

He says big issues like the foreshore and seabed can turn into distractions.

GARDINER RECALLIMG VIETNAM EXPERIENCE

Soldier turned government troubleshooter Sir Wira Gardiner has been working with fellow Vietnam veterans on a history of his old unit.

Sir Wira, who has previously written a history of the Maori Battalion, was a Lieutenant Colonel with Victor 4 company during the late 1960s.

He says the book will show the War from a soldier’s perspective, and it will be ready for the company’s reunion in the Bay of Islands in April.

Sir Wira is also writing a book on Maori leadership.

SHARPLES PLANNING ECONOMIC SUMMIT

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is planning another Maori economic summit.

He says the hui, which is likely to happen in March, will mark the end of the work of his current economic taskforce.

It could also mark the start of a new Maori business organisation which will allow iwi to have a say.

PIRIPI KEEN ON INTERNATIONAL STOUSH

Te Rarawa chair Haami Piripi says the time is right for Maori to have their right to minerals tested in an international court.

He says this week’s Waitangi Tribunal recommendation that Maori be given a say in petroleum exploration is a challenge to the Crown’s assumption it owns the resource.

He says the Northland claims now being heard by the tribunal have thrown up evidence about sovereignty which could help any Maori case in an international forum.

COURT GIVES HAPU OWNERSHIP OF WAKA

Kenana Te Ranginui trust in the far north is celebrating a Maori Land Court decision acknowledging ownership of an old hand-adzed waka discovered in the Oruaiti river which drains into Monganui harbour in 2007.

The court has ruled the waka belongs to Te Matarahurahu hapu of ngati kahu with the marae having kaitiaki responsibility.

Marae trustee Reremoana Renata who has been fighting for ownership against a collector says waka builder Hek Busby visited with Sir Graham Latimer and confirmed the waka was theirs.

On Hek Busby's advice they reburied the waka in mud wrapped in polythene.

She said members of Fred Broughton's whanau are working with the Trust to decide the waka's future.

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