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Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Iwi with unsettled claims can buy SOE shares on credit - Govt

Bill English. Photo / Greg Bowker
Bill English. Photo / Greg Bowker

Iwi who have not settled Waitangi claims will be able to buy shares in Mighty River Power and other power companies on credit when they are partially privatised, the Government confirmed today.

The announcement by Finance Minister Bill English and Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson comes just days after the Government rejected the "shares plus" concept floated by the Waitangi Tribunal for addressing issues around Maori rights and interests in fresh water.

Iwi yet to settle their claims could choose to receive a percentage of their forecast settlement package "on account" in the form of shares in the Government share offer companies. Mr Finlayson said.

"This is a result of our constructive engagement with iwi leaders and their technical advisers," the ministers said.

"It is another example of how direct engagement with the Crown can produce pragmatic solutions that provide an opportunity for more New Zealanders to participate in the share floats and support Iwi and the Crown to settle historic Treaty claims."

Mr Finlayson said the "on-account" arrangements were not new for iwi in negotiations with the Crown and had been used used by many iwi in the past.

"They must pay the full issue price and any amount drawn down will be deducted from the final settlement."

If yet-to-settle Iwi meet criteria for eligibility, they would be able to buy ordinary shares at the IPO price, on the understanding that the purchase forms part of their overall settlement package.

They would not be eligible for loyalty bonuses, as these will apply only to individual New Zealanders.

A 5 per cent maximum of their likely settlement would be available for Iwi not "local" to any of the power companies' assets.

A 10 per cent limit would apply to Iwi who are local to any of the companies and a 12.5 per cent limit would apply to iwi who are local and had reached an Agreement in Principle with the Crown over their claim, and agreed an amount for settlement.

Mr English said the actual amount to be advanced as on-account payments for shares would depend on the level of take-up by iwi.

Treasury estimated that if all Iwi took up their full entitlement, that would amount to $145 million over the entire Government share offer programme.

- NZ Herald

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