Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Waikato-Tainui tops $1b in assets

Properties, interest, hotel and dairy deals help Waikato-Tainui reach milestone.

Mike Pohio.
Mike Pohio.

Interest income on big cash holdings, hotel and milk business deals and rising values of investment properties helped push Waikato-Tainui's asset base up from $925.1 million last year to $1.06 billion.

The iwi's net after-tax profit in the March 2014 year dropped from $110.8 million to $70.9 million, as it nears the 20th anniversary of its Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Its annual report out last night showed how it had turned its $170 million 1995 Treaty settlement into $1.1 billion, rivalling the South Island's Ngai Tahu and Auckland's Ngati Whatua.

The after-tax profit dropped because last year $70.03 million of Treaty settlements were included in the accounts.

But the asset base rose by $133.4 million, partly due to interest payments on the iwi's $172 million cash (previously $156.8 million).

The October acquisition of Hamilton Riverview Hotel and the March 31 investment in specialist dairy and technology manufacturer Waikato Milking Systems NZ, which employs 120 staff, contributed to big growth in the year ended March 31.

The iwi went into a partnership with Ngai Tahu Capital and Pioneer Capital, each buying a 33 per cent holding in the milk business and started a new residential subdivision at Hamilton's Rotokauri.

In the 1995 Treaty settlement, the iwi agreed to ownership of the Te Rapa air force base and other Crown land in the Tainui-Waikato area.

Rahui Papa, the chairman of Te Arataura o Waikato-Tainui, cited gains in tribal development projects and said other new projects were either announced or being advanced as commercial investments were expanded.

"Surpassing the $1 billion mark in total asset value is a milestone of which we can and should be proud," Papa said.

"It is particularly notable as we approach the 20th anniversary of the settlement of our Treaty claim in 1995.

"When you consider where we have come from as an iwi, the challenges we have faced, and the value we have created to grow that initial settlement of $170 million - we have made significant strides in 19 years."

Papa said that since 2004, dividends from its commercial strategy had amounted to $104.5 million, with $55 million, or 53 per cent, being returned to tribal members to support education, health, sports, marae, kaumatua, poukai, cultural events and community programmes.

Tainui Group Holdings - the commercial entity of Waikato-Tainui which incorporates Waikato Tainui Fisheries - chaired by ex-Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden made $44.3 million net profit, 2 per cent down on last year because unrealised gains in investment properties were not as high as the previous year.

The group's diversified investment strategy would see it buy directly into medium-to-large private businesses with strong growth potential and good management, van der Heyden said.

The milk business was the first, followed with buying 5.4 million shares in Genesis Energy, he said.

Mike Pohio, chief executive of the holdings company, said the value of investment properties rose from $738 million to $841 million. The most valuable asset was The Base shopping centre at Te Rapa, which Pohio said had an excellent year with around six million shoppers visiting annually.

Pohio said a Ruakura land holding was the second most valuable asset and a board of inquiry which investigated a proposal to redevelop it had finished its hearings.

A decision on a plan change to rezone the land was due about the middle of September, he said.

This is the first year Waikato-Tainui has released a group annual report: previously the commercial and tribal arms reported separately, a few weeks apart.

Pohio said there was now alignment of interests between the two parts of the group, working closer together.

Read the Waikato-Tainui Annual Report 2014

- NZ Herald

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