"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.