Saturday, August 8, 2009

maori are perfect PPP partners

Strong words from Mark Solomon.

"Mark Solomon, director of South Island iwi Ngai Tahu, said yesterday that talks about PPPs had been ongoing for at least 18 months.

"Talks are very fruitful and I think that some time not too far in the future there will be public-private partnerships, not just for Maori but for New Zealand companies."

Mr Solomon said last year's pullout of the Canadian suitor for a large stake in Auckland Airport had prompted Maori to approach the Government then and ask why no one had thought to speak to them. "Surely given that we are multi-generational, that we're never going to leave the country and everything we earn will stay in the country, aren't we in effect your perfect partner?"

A very good point - Maori are the perfect partner for all sorts of reasons. We are not going to sell out to overseas interests. Anyone who wants our assets to stay under our control should be encouraging government to set up PPP with maori.

He said the talks were broad and the Crown would be likely to set up an infrastructure committee to look at the issue. "All we want to know is, if it's a viable option, let's have the talk on what you are going to put up for New Zealanders to invest in their nation."

To the Wellington Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Mr Solomon said he believed that iwis would become financial powerhouses in the years ahead.

This is an area where I have a concern, i am not sure if the flow on effect for ordinary iwi members has occured. If the people aren't looked after or they don't feel looked after then what is the point of having a billion dollar iwi? No point at all, in my view.

Ngai Tahu had grown its asset base from a treaty settlement of $170 million in 1998 to $606 million today, Mr Solomon said. It had more than 500 employees, had major tourism and seafood export operations, a 6.5 per cent stake in Ryman Healthcare, and owned several civic buildings.

These things were just the beginning for Maori, and they were gaining increasing critical mass, which made them natural partners for the government.

"We see further public/private/iwi partnerships, perhaps on roads, airports and other strategic infrastructure. It is not impossible to imagine iwi as cornerstone shareholders in state-owned enterprises making them state-iwi owned enterprises."

We need to be talking about this and it is good that Mark has spoken about it. Maori are the natural partners of government and the sooner the government gets with the program the better off we will all be. We don't have to sell to overseas buyers - let's look after it ourselves.


Anonymous said...

In general this is a good idea but PPP's have had very mixed results. While they may take many forms they invariably involve a risk transfer and that risk-read financial will fall on Ngai Tahu.

Do we really need to do this? Is our vision just to create more and more money or will there eventually be some transfer of that money into sustainable employment. Witness the low paid jobs of tourism that Ngai Tahu have entered. They are the first to feel the brunt of the recession.

If we wish to make serious money, if that is the aim, then no-one in their right mind would invest in New Zealand. We would invest somewhere else where there are serious profits to be made. Probably in an even lower wage economy than New Zealand.

My point is that PPPs like lots of things are flavour of the month. They serve a purpose but much of their legacy is debatable. Rather than just jump on the latest band wagon shouldn't Ngai Tahu actually decide what it wants first and then possibly something like a PPP may be appropriate rather than just say lets get involved in PPPs when we dont understand them, we dont understand the risks and we are going to need significant-probably non Ngai Tahu advice-especially legal.

Marty Mars said...

very good points anon.

I think we need to create more pathways where the accumulated wealth can be distributed to iwi members. I am very concerned about the concentration of wealth within Iwi structures.

PPP's are vehicles to facilitate self determination IMO and they must be in alignment with the goals of the iwi. And it is not the iwi's job to do the job of government - unless they give the iwi all of the resources to do that.

I agree that we don't understand the transferance of risk but i hope people are working on it. A very tricky area.

In principal though, if they are going to sell assets or create joint structures for manageing assets then maori must be the first option - not the last. Much work to be done, least of all getting some decent debate internally around these issues. kia ora anon