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As Waitangi Day nears, Anne Gibson takes the measure of Maoridom's finances.
Six billion dollars. That's the scale of assets controlled by iwi which have signed settlements with the Crown. That figure could double in a decade or so, believes one expert who has studied the scope and management of iwi assets.
Phil Barry, a director of corporate finance and economic consultants TDB Advisory in Wellington, sees a big rise in the Maori economy, to the point where the post-settlement iwi will have assets worth $12b.
"Ngapuhi, the largest iwi in the country in terms of members, for example, has yet to settle," he points out. "As an indication, though, if the current iwi post-settlement entities earned on average a 7 per cent per annum return post-distribution, their total funds could roughly double by 2026 to around $12b.
"Around 60 iwi have settled with the Crown since 1990 and we estimate the total funds under management for these 60-odd iwi are now worth around $6b.
"What the total assets of the post-settlement iwi might be worth in a year's time or 10 years' time will depend on what other iwi settle in the meantime, and what happens to asset prices in the future in particular."
In its Iwi Investment Report, released at the end of last year, TDB analysed the investments and performance of eight iwi, which among them control about 70 per cent of all post-settlement assets.
The eight were chosen because of their population, their assets, length of operation and the availability of information. All apart from Ngapuhi have signed settlements with the Crown.
Five of the iwi have a strong focus on property investment, but two - Ngati Porou and Tuhoe - have made an effort to diversify, largely by putting money into managed funds.
In general, the iwi produced a "reasonably positive" financial performance, found TDB Advisory. Seven of the eight generated consistently positive returns, although only two - Ngai Tahu and Ngati Whatua Orakei - recorded a better return than a benchmark portfolio of low-risk bonds and shares.
Only one of the eight has consistently lost money - Wellington's Port Nicholson Block, earning minus 7 per cent a year between 2013 and 2016.
New Zealand's wealthiest iwi, Ngai Tahu, was also among the earlier settlements, signing its deed with the Crown in 1997. The South Island iwi now has a net worth of $1.27b and has a particularly diverse asset base.