What the Iwi CEOs are saying - Mike Pohio

Mike Pohio Tainui Group Holdings.
Mike Pohio Tainui Group Holdings.

Mike Pohio Tainui Group Holdings

Mike Pohio is concerned the way the RMA is currently used does not achieve the purpose of dealing with economic prosperity in a timely manner.

"As we look forward, that's a clear point of lost opportunity," Pohio cautions. "Not only can these processes slow down investment, but they can deter it entirely."

As CEO of Tainui Group Holdings, Pohio is endeavouring to get the iwi's "project of national significance" - a major inland freight and logistics hub at Ruakura - through the planning hoops.

The rail line that connects Hamilton and the Waikato Region to the Ports of Auckland and Tauranga runs through the site and the proposed Waikato Expressway will run down the eastern boundary.

Within 20 years it is expected the population and freight volumes across the upper North Island will double and that 50 per cent of New Zealand's GDP will be produced in the so-called Golden Triangle bounded by Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga.

The Waikato will be the primary export producer for the country.

But Pohio has found the process of securing consents and approvals through the RMA is one of the most significant factors affecting the Tainui Group's competitiveness.

"One of the impediments that I see is that the regulatory element of the territorial or the regional authority can be interfered with from the political hat that some of the politicians wear.

"And the regulatory element itself can be delayed as a function of a lack of prioritisation within a set of regulatory responsibilities. The resourcing and the getting through the work can be diverted away from those that deliver substantive economic opportunity through other regulatory responsibilities."

He applauds new legislation that has provided the opportunity to run applications through the Environmental Protection Agency for projects of national significance.

The Tainui Group has a two-pronged approach: continuing to commit to property areas, adding and extracting value from assets that were part of the original settlement, but also looking to diversify their investment portfolio into non-property investment opportunities.

"We always recognise that we are 100 per cent owned by the iwi, and there are some elements that we draw into our decision-making and our execution of strategy," Pohio says. "But we start with the commercial proposition and look to add to that when we take into account the shareholder's aspirations."

Pohio is optimistic about the future for his iwi enterprise, and for the future of the Maori economy as a whole.

Increased treaty settlement rates for other iwi are enabling more of these groups to participate commercially.

Pohio says his top three business priorities for the next 12 months are:

• Regulatory approval for our project of national significance;

• Executing our investment diversification strategy, and

• Capturing property development opportunities

His best achievement in the past 12 month was "making progress, albeit slowly, on the regulatory approval for our proposed project of national significance".

Ngahiwi Tomoana Ngati Kahungunu Inc

If Ngahiwi Tomoana had the ability to make one change to improve New Zealand it would be to define Iwi rights to natural resources such as freshwater and minerals to "allow tribal economies to assist the NZ economy evolve."

The North Island based Maori grouping has the third largest Iwi population in New Zealand.

Tomoana says his best achievement in the past 12 months was to buy one of the largest farms in Hawkes Bay. He says Ngati Kahungunu "will train Maori to take over our farms and purchase new ones".

The single biggest factor that would assist the iwi business to remain internationally competitive from New Zealand would be greater clustering of New Zealand products into markets with clear marketing strategies.

The biggest barrier to iwi exports is exchange rate volatility.

- NZ Herald

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