Friday, March 23, 2012

Mike Butler: Settlement top-ups for two tribes

Treaty of Waitangi top-up clauses in Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu settlements could be triggered this year, a government spokesman confirmed this week, although the Office of Treaty Settlements said that information on the total value of settlements under the relativity mechanism would not be released “at this time”.

Both Ngai Tahu and Waikato-Tainui negotiated relativity clauses, of the sort that used to characterise union wage negotiations, as part of their original settlements, entitling each iwi to a percentage of all future Treaty settlements once they exceeded $1-billion in 1994 dollar terms.

A report in the Otago Daily Times newspaper (1) noted that for the first time, the Government has acknowledged that amount could be reached this year, which would entitle Ngai Tahu to 16.1 percent and Waikato-Tainui 17 percent of all future treaty settlements.

Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon said that he expected that the mechanism will possibly be triggered “this year, or next year at the latest." A spokesman for Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said the clause was not triggered at the end of the 2010-11 financial year, "but it is possible the mechanism will be triggered this year", while noting that Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu would be advised first.

Last October, I asked the Office of Treaty Settlements under the Official Information Act whether any payments had been made under the relativity mechanism to finally receive a reply on Thursday, the day the Otago Daily Times published the relativity trigger report, which confirmed no such payments had been made and said no information would be released on the total value of settlements.

An Office of Treaty Settlements report from February 2010 put the total settlement redress at $958,289,025, which was under the threshold, and included a helpful breakdown of 28 settlements to that date with an amount for each. (2) A check on their report from March 2011 (3) showed no total and no corresponding table, which indicated at that stage that the office had gone coy on the total redress paid to date.

A spreadsheet that may be found by clicking on the “Treaty Transparency” advert on the home page at shows that total redress agreed to and mostly paid so far is $2.079-billion. A further 16 settlements worth a total of $375.85-million are currently going through parliament. Once legislation has passed, the total would reach $2.455-billion.

The Office of Treaty Settlements did point out that $149,564,340 was the value of Crown forestry assets transferred to CNI Iwi Holdings Ltd, and that rentals accumulated from 1989 to settlement date and held in trust by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust were not Crown assets. Therefore, the $874-million figure on the NZCPR spreadsheet for the 2008 CNI settlement must have $724,435,660 deducted.

The Reserve Bank inflation calculator reveals that $1-billion in 1994 dollars equates to $1.5269-billion today. Therefore, after deducting forestry rentals as described, the total financial redress paid once the 16 settlements in parliament are passed into law would be $1.7306-billion, or $203.664-million over the level that triggers the relativity mechanism for Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu. The 17 percent relativity figure would give $34.62-million to Waikato-Tainui and 16.1 percent would give $32.78-million to Ngai Tahu.

My calculations may be wrong. The Office of Treaty Settlements or Mr Finlayson could release the calculation method. I’m sure the financial controllers of both tribes will have a good idea of what is coming their way.

With four further settlements awaiting tribal ratification, 16 agreed but at the detailed negotiations stage, a further 15 under negotiation, and a number of others yet to be negotiated, Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu both have a few more substantial pay days to look forward to. I wonder what the other tribes think of that. And I wonder what the thoughts are of the non-Maori majority for whom five or six million dollars in Lotto or Big Wednesday is far more than they could imagine.

1. Treaty top-up for Ngai Tahu, Otago Daily Times, March 22, 2012.
2. Office of Treaty Settlements Four Monthly Report November 2009-February 2010.
3. Office of Treaty Settlements Nine Month Report July 2010 – March 2011.


Anonymous said...

i think you will find the calculation method in the Deeds which are on the OTS website

Anonymous said...

Is this tax payer money or asset money?

Anonymous said...

A number of settlements have included ex gratia payments euphemistically described as . outside the treaty settlement process. For relativity purposes, will those amounts be added to the treaty settlement grand total?

Anonymous said...

Total payout assets, cash, co management rights and add on is closer to $3.5 billion.