Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Mike Butler: Airport share offered to Mana Ahuriri
Mana Ahuriri signed an agreement in principle on December 19, 2013, that includes financial redress of $19.5-million. The Hawke’s Bay Airport posted a net worth of $16.6-million and annual revenue of $4.01-million in its 2014 annual report. (1)
A 50 percent shareholding presumably would be worth $8.3-million on current valuation with an annual 50 percent share of profit in a near-enough-to risk-free investment in which Mana Ahuriri would not have to do anything other than pocket the cash.
Mana Ahuriri already receives $30,000 a year for about 10ha leased to the Hawke’s Bay Airport.
Claimant Heitia Hiha told the Hawke's Bay Today last year that Maori engaging European settlers and the Crown in settlement of their land in the mid-19th century believed they were entering agreements of shared development, and implied that the area where the airport is located was "taken away". (2)
But that area was part of Te Whanganui a Orotu lagoon that became land during the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake.
Neither was the area "taken away". Three hundred Maori signed the deed that transferred the 107,242ha Ahuriri block to the colonial government for £1500 in 1851.
The Ahuriri deed said: “Now we have in our assemblies sighed over wept over and bidden farewell to and solemnly consented entirely to give up these lands descended to us from our ancestors with their seas rivers waters timber and all appertaining to the said land to Victoria the Queen of England for ever.”
The airport was not listed as such among the potential commercial redress properties included in the agreement in principle.
A bit of digging was required when a sharp-eyed person noticed the continued absence of two of the four airport directors and wondered whether directorships had been offered to Mana Ahuriri along with the name-change deal.
That raised the question whether the government was planning to transfer their shares in the airport to Mana Ahuriri Inc as part of their settlement. The group’s deputy chairman Piri Prentice confirmed the offer to the Hawke’s Bay Today. (3)
If Mana Ahuriri takes up the offer, this would effectively transfer total control of a vital piece of Hawke’s Bay infrastructure because the government already owns slightly more than 50 percent of the airport shares.
This is no April 1 joke.
1. HB Airport annual report 2014 http://www.napier.govt.nz/assets/Document-Library/Reports/Council-Controlled-Organisation-reports/hbap-annual-report-2014.pdf
2. Listening and learning leads to understanding, HB Today, February 9, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11198524
3. Iwi offered airport share, HB Today, April 1, 2015
at 3:08 PM