Tuesday, October 27, 2009



I was invited to speak at the FOMA (Federation of Maori Authorities) conference in Wellington last weekend. I lovingly refer to FOMA as the Maori Surf and Turf club because the affiliated organizations are in the main primary producers in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture. Yes culture is alive and well in the Maori business sector.

FOMA reckons it’s the largest Maori business network with a voluntary membership of Maori Incorporations, Land Trusts, Trusts Boards and Runanga, and emerging communally owned entities. It’s FOMA’s job to foster and promote the development, sound management and the economic advancement of Maori Authorities which then positively impacts on iwi.

According to its website Federation membership is open to Maori Authorities: organizations established to manage communally owned assets. In the main these are Trusts and Incorporations governed by Te Ture Whenua Maori /Maori Land Act 1993, and Trust Boards and Runanga under the Maori Trust Board Act. It’s also open to business interests that have a majority shareholding or are wholly owned by a Maori Authority. FOMA includes Treaty settlement entities and entities formed by individual statute.

What impressed me most is the collective wealth of the 50 or so groups gathered at the Duxton Hotel totals around $17 billion and growing. A significant amount of this is of course comes from Treaty Settlements. Many of iwi receive their settlement and then sit on it, watching it gain minuscule interest - but interest none the less.

Settlements completed so far: Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika: $25 million
Central North Island Forests Iwi Collective $161 million. Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu $38.6 million. Te Roroa $9.5 million. Ngati Mutunga $14.9 million. Te Arawa (Lakes) $2.7 million (plus $7.3 million to capitalise the annuity Te Arawa received from the Crown and address any remaining annuity issues). Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi $31 million. Tuwharetoa (Bay of Plenty) $10.5 million. Ngati Awa $42.39 million. Ngati Tama $14.5 million. Ngati Ruanui $41,000,000. Te Uri o Hau $15,600,000. Pouakani $2,650,000. Ngati Turangitukua $5,000,000. Ngai Tahu $170,000,000. Te Maunga $129,032. Rotoma $43,931. Waimakuku $375,000. Waikato/Tainui raupatu $170,000,000. Ngati Whakaue $5,210,000. Hauai $715,682 Ngati Rangiteaorere $760,000. Commercial Fisheries $170,000,000.

These sea and land people are by nature and bitter experience conservative risk adverse organizations. Some iwi like Waikato Tainui took bad advice and invested unwisely in Pubs and Rugby League teams, while others invested in aqua-farms are yet to see returns on their investments. But Maori are traditionally ‘long-haul’ people. They go into the future looking generations ahead and so while their investments may not pay off this week or next week, they will pay off.

This long vision approach to life doesn’t satisfy the social watch-dogs who say Maori need assistance now with poor statistics in health, housing, education, and the whole socio-political gamut of dysfunctionality. They’re right of course. Maori do need help now, and tribes are assisting their people through educational scholarships and iwi based health initiatives. There could be more assistance but to blow whole Treaty Settlements now on albeit worthwhile social woes is negligent. Settlements is for the benefit of all especially future generations. It’s the tribes’ responsibility to create generational wealth and that means investing in long term initiatives including sustainable horticultural ventures like Te Waka Kai Ora in Nga Puhi.

So back to the FOMA hui which incidentally was called ‘Future Frontiers’ and featured about 20 speakers both Maori and Pakeha including 2-degrees Mobile Communications CEO Eric Hertz, Fisher Funds Managing Director Carmel Fisher, Trevor Moeke from Te Whare Wananga o Aotearoa and Mike Pratt Saatchi and Saatchi New York. The kai was fantastic, given that it was a hui for surf and turf folk it was expected the kaimoana fresh and varied and the selection of meats just as assorted.

The only thing I found slightly ‘odd’ about the 3-day hui was the dearth of waiata. I counted only three waiata sung at the Duxton all on the final day at the poroporoaki. I hope we don’t become so slick at doing the business and talking the corporate-speak that we forgo or forget waiata. Waiata is what keeps us grounded in whakapapa and reminds us why we’re all doing the business.

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