Thursday, May 30, 2013
Mike Butler: Taupo tribe loses $29m
“Bad investments and bailouts” have wiped almost half the value off Taupo tribe Tuwharetoa’s $66-million share of the “Treelord’s” treaty settlement, the Dominion Post reported today. (1) Ngati Tuwharetoa is the second tribe to admit to losing millions in settlement spoils. About a year ago, Taranaki's Ngati Tama reported it lost its $14.5-million payout it received in 2003, also in “bad investments”.
The Tuwharetoa Settlements Trust was set up to receive a cash payment of $66-million, a share of 176,000 hectares of Crown forest land ($197-million), 25.9 per cent of annual Crown forest licence fees ($2-million to $3-million a year) and a share of three million carbon credits.
Former National Party MP Georgina te Heuheu was one of six new trustees elected in December and, with its new general manager, Temuera Hall, found the accounts in disarray, the Dominion Post reported.
A forensic audit was commissioned and beneficiaries were told of the loss which reduced the cash asset from $66-million to $37-million. A forensic audit can be conducted in order to prosecute a party for fraud, embezzlement or other financial claims.
In 2008, the trust bailed out two tribal entities with $10.2-million and secured a 649ha block of land near Turangi after Te Whenua Venture Holdings went into liquidation. It also advanced a loan to another tribal entity to get a hotel with a $2.7-million mortgage attached.
A total of $16.2-million has been distributed to hapu trusts as required by the 2008 Deed of Settlement.
Another Tuwharetoa entity, the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, as owners of Lake Taupo, sought to charge a levy for Ironman New Zealand competitors to use the lake for the swim leg of the international triathlon earlier this year. The trust board was reported to be seeking a $40 levy for each entrant, which would have netted about $58,000. (2)
Georgina te Heuheu, the former Maori affairs spokeswoman for the National Party, was on the Maori Affairs select committee that pushed through the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill in 2008, while her brother-in-law, Tumu te Heuheu, as Ngati Tuwharetoa paramount chief, was a key recipient of the settlement. (3)
Watch out for claims against the government in the wake of tribal financial “incompetence”.
When Ngati Tama announced its loss, Maori entitlements commentator Morgan Godfery wrote: “Indeed, if the government knew a tribe’s settlement was close to collapsing, and did nothing, then the government would be liable for a contemporary breach of the treaty under the partnership and active protection principles.” (4)
1. Bailouts, bad ventures halve Treelord cash, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8733676/Bailouts-bad-ventures-halve-Treelord-cash
2. Mayor 'sickened' if iwi paid for triathlon on lake, http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/8341720/Mayor-sickened-if-iwi-paid-for-triathlon-on-lake
3. Largest ever Treaty deal 'Treelords' passes into law, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10534220
4. Should the government guarantee settlements? http://mauistreet.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/should-government-guarantee-settlements.html
at 10:34 AM