Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Whātuā Ōrākei outperform all other iwi

Eight post-settlement iwi have nearly $6 billion of assets, with Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Whātuā Ōrākei making 14 per cent and 16 per cent annually from their valuable investment base.

Corporate finance and economic experts TDB Advisory released a report revealing the growing financial strength of iwi throughout New Zealand.

The 33-page Iwi Investment Report 2016 reviewed the corporate structures, investment strategies and performance, saying there is a "reasonably positive performance by the sector.

"We estimate the total assets of the post-settlement entities are now valued at around $6b. This report considers eight iwi - Ngāi Tahu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Port Nicholson Block, Rangitāne o Wairau, Tūhoe and Waikato-Tainui - with combined assets of around $4.3b.


"These eight iwi were chosen on the basis of availability of public information, asset base, length of operations and population size. We estimate that the total assets of the iwi covered in this report equate to around 70 per cent of all post-settlement iwi assets," the report said.

Ngāi Tahu of the South Island and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei of Auckland "have comfortably out-performed the benchmark return of 10 per cent per annum with reported average returns of 14 per cent and 16 per cent respectively."

Since 1990, around 60 iwi have finalised treaty settlements with the Crown and the report said the eight iwi it reviewed accounted for about 63 per cent of the total Maori population in New Zealand, managing about 70 per cent of total assets in the sector.

Ngāi Tahu has nearly tripled its asset base in the last decade, from $561 million in 206 to $1.5 billion now but with very little debt. Rural land, investment properties, seafood and fisheries, a shareholding in NZX listed Christchurch-headquartered Ryman Healthcare, property and tourism make up its assets. Distributions to iwi beneficiaries have been steadily growing, from $10m in 2006 to $25m in 2016.

In 2012, Ngāti Whātuā Ōrākei's assets were valued at $401 million but those are now valued at $939 million. The waterfront CBD Quay Park area with 29 ground leases including to the Vector Arena and Countdown, the leaky Eastcliff on Orakei retirement village alongside Bastion Point and 28ha of North Shore development land bought from the Crown make up its main asset base.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has historically made distributions to its beneficiaries in
the form of education grants, scholarships and programmes. In 2016, $5.1m
in cash was distributed alongside income spent for housing refurbishment.

Waikato-Tainui, with a $1.2 billion asset base, has a 9 per cent return on assets in 2016, its highest level in the last seven years. Its assets are in property, ground leases, cash, primary industries, direct investment and equities but in recent years it has been diversifying its portfolio, buying a dairy farm at Tauhei, selling half of The Base shopping centre in Hamilton and getting consents for an inland report at Ruakura, the report noted.

Across all the iwi, debt levels are relatively low, less than 10 per cent, with only Ngāti Whātuā Ōrākei and Waikato-Tainui borrowing at higher levels.

Profitable iwi structures help Maori in New Zealand, as asset bases grow.

"Net assets per member have increased over the last four years for seven of the eight iwi. This positive trend has allowed these iwi to better pursue the economic, social, cultural and environment goals for their iwi members. The only exception to increasing net asset growth was Port Nicholson Block, due to the declining value of its property portfolio," the report concluded.