Maori Council

Refreshing honesty from a “decent journalist, trained and skilled”

Yesterday David Farrar blogged about Brian Rudman and his refreshing honesty in the Herald yesterday. Rudman should be commended as a “decent journalist, trained and skilled” for not banging on about his theatre or subsidies for the arts, instead he told us the truth, something we have all long suspected.

Despite the best efforts of Opposition politicians, single-issue campaigners and me and my colleagues in the media, most Kiwis seem resolutely unconvinced that this country is heading for hell in a handcart.

Farrar notes:

[H]is inclusion of  his colleagues in the media speaks volumes.

They see their role to convince New Zealanders that their country is fucked, with the implication being unless of course they change the Government.

Will the NZ Herald let Rudman’s comments stand that the role of his media colleagues has been to use their best efforts convince people the country is damned?  Read more »

He shoots… He SCORES!! Oh no he didn’t.

Harry Truman

With the Supereme Court ruling on the Maori Council complaint about water rights at 3 pm today, I was keeping an eye on Twitter to see what would happen.

This may be a “media” belt-way issue, but it was hilarious.

We had idiots calling it too early   Read more »

Treaty ‘rights’ a trap

David Round has some major concerns with the wonky constitutional review underway. While we complain about Fiji’s constitutional changes yet our own are appearing to be significantly gerrymandered by Maori:

You need kidney dialysis. But you cannot get it, because people of Maori ancestry, although less deserving of treatment on purely clinical grounds, have priority. You have paid your taxes all your life. You die.

Impossible? At present, yes – we hope. But several years ago when an elderly man in Northland was ruled ineligible for dialysis – on solely clinical grounds – the Maori Council declared elderly Maori people were “taonga” and therefore entitled to treatment under the Treaty of Waitangi, which would give them priority over non-Maori.  Read more »

Crown Wins Water Case

Radio Live have just tweeted:

Good stuff.

Tony Ryall and Bill English have said in their Press Release:

Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall today welcomed the High Court decision in favour of the Crown following last month’s High Court action regarding the sale of shares in Mighty River Power.

“The High Court decision confirms the Government can proceed to sell up to 49 per cent of shares in four state owned energy companies, in accordance with the legislation passed by Parliament earlier this year,” Mr English says.

“The Government is firmly of the view that the partial sale of shares does not in any way affect the Crown’s ability to recognise rights and interests in water, or to provide redress for genuine Treaty claims.”

UPDATE:

Deep pockets. For the lawyer troughers.

A sensible Maori leader

Mark Solomon has broken ranks with the greedy, grasping Maori Council who are intent on gang style standover to extract cash form the government:

An influential iwi leader may have given the Government’s legal team a boost as it prepares to mount a defence to a Maori Council bid to stop its flagship asset sales programme.

Ngai Tahu iwi leader Mark Solomon told TVNZ’s Q and A yesterday that he does not believe that any sell-down of the southern state power company Meridian would have any impact on Ngai Tahu’s rights and interests in water.

That is exactly the argument the Crown will be mounting in the High Court at Wellington tomorrow against the part sale of the first SOE off the block, Mighty River Power.

He also disagreed with the finding of the Waitangi Tribunal that it would be a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi if the Government proceeded to sell shares without first providing Maori with a remedy to recognise their rights.

He pointed out that that tribunal had also said that a sell-down of 49 per cent did not prevent the Government from addressing the rights and the interests of Maori – a contradiction the Government has similarly pointed to on several occasions.

“Personally I do not believe that the sell-down of parts of Meridian will affect Ngai Tahu’s rights and interest to water,” Mr Solomon said.

All ’bout the money

John Key has made it clear that the dopey “shares plus” idea of the Waitangi Tribunal is unworkable in law and in practice. But that doesn’t stop Maori advancing their greedy claims on anything that moves. It has always been about money for them, all the mumbo-jumbo about a connection with the land, and guardians of resources is a convenient cover for naked greed and feather-bedding for the bro-racracy.

The powerful Waikato-Tainui iwi may press for smaller tribes affected by the Mighty River sale to receive shares on credit until their Treaty claims are settled when the Government consults them on the partial sale of the company.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday that the Government was postponing the sale plan until between March and June next year.

The Maori Council, which was threatening a court challenge to the sale plan, hailed the decision as a vindication of its claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

But last night, it warned that the Government’s planned consultation with iwi affected by the Mighty River sale would not necessarily prevent a court challenge.

They are like the Mongrel Mob or Black Power doing standover in your driveway. If you pay they go away…for now…then come back repeatedly once they have established you willingness to submit to their standover. It never ends.

I suspect John Key has been clever in kicking this to touch for a few months, he meets the criteria the liberal courts will want for consultation and will deliver up asset sales anyway, with a good healthy dose of reality for the rest of New Zealand that caving in to standover is not good for the country.

Fran O’Sullivan on Asset Sales and Brownmail

NZ Herald

Yesterday Fran O’Sullivan wrote about asset sales, the Waitangi tribunal and the brownmail going on with water:

Key would clearly have calculated that the Maori Council’s claim would emerge before the Government could get the IPO programme under way.

The tribunal’s response was also predictable. As a quasi-judicial body it is not biased towards the Crown.

The Maori Council had repeatedly asked it to make an interim recommendation to the Government to call a halt on the Mighty River Power IPO (though all four companies outlined in its claim are covered).

The council has also flagged that it intends High Court action if stymied, threatening to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Funnily enough, no one accuses the Maori Council of bad faith when it indulges in such histrionics before the tribunal has even delivered its report.

That is just standard operating procedure for some iwi – otherwise known in the commercial world as the “I want it” camp – who take legal action to extract benefits from companies and local authorities which are pursuing development projects.

Nobody appears to have measured the deadweight costs of what some call “brownmail” on New Zealand business and the New Zealand economy.

But it will be hefty.

Yes indeed, it will be hefty, the taniwha only ever has its thirst slaked with cash.

In Key’s case he has to exhibit good faith, even though deep inside he will also view the whole process as akin to greenmail in commercial terms.

The problem is that business is relatively cowardly when it comes to commenting on such issues, so the vacuum gets filled by the profile-seeking lawyers who either commercially clip the ticket for prosecuting Treaty of Waitangi claims or charge hefty retainers for helping commercial clients deal with this complex reality.

It’s in their interests for the Treaty industry to prevail.

Despite nearly arriving at the end of the treat settlement process we still have the treaty troughers seeking to extend the lifetime of the trough.

Fundamentally, the tribunal has delivered a rather naive commentary on the effects of delaying the Mighty River IPO.

The Government said at the tribunal hearing it could repurchase any shares sold in the mixed ownership model companies.

The tribunal said this week that it was, however, only a partial factor in weighing the balance of convenience “as the shares, once sold, can only be repurchased from a willing seller and may require a prohibitively expensive outlay”.

“The only other option available to the Crown, were it to wish to return the mixed ownership model companies to full Crown ownership, would be to pass legislation compulsorily reacquiring the shares sold in the companies.”

The tribunal went on to say the sale of shares could therefore cause a “significant disadvantage to the claimants were their claims to be determined to be well founded”.

The tribunal then danced around timing issues.

Key’s eyes will have rolled here at the tribunal’s fundamental lack of commerciality.

The answer is quite obvious.

Simply hold back some more of the Government’s quantum to ultimately use to settle the Maori Council claim (if – and only if – it can legally prove it has “title” to the water) and proceed with the IPO on its current timetable.

This may mean the Government would simply float 40 per cent of Mighty River Power at this stage instead of the full 49 per cent that will ultimately end up in private hands.

Commercially smart the Maori Council is not, low rat cunning it has in spades though and they are playing it up to assorted ne’erdowells who would like to re-litigate the election.

More risks for the Mixed Ownership Model

by Winslow Taggart

It seems that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong for the government’s push on mixed ownership for state assets.

First, the broker community rebelled against excessive Commerce Commission interference for publicly listed companies, after ComCom draft decisions wiped hundreds of millions of dollars of NZ investment away. Senior brokers and funds managers warned that the partial floats will be at risk from investors spooked by the uncertain regulatory environment. The replacement of the tired and emotional Ross Patterson with Stephen Gale is a useful first step, but nowhere near the big shakeup the ComCom needs.

Then, the Maori Council have greedily and opportunistically raised water rights as a blatant grab on future earnings by the power companies that will be part floated. While it seems that the Maori Party have accepted assurances from PM Key, the question is, whether “Mr Market” will do likewise.

Now, the capability of the lead broker for the SOE floats is being called into question. Craigs Investment Partners has just been fined by the NZX Disciplinary Tribunal for bodgy trades by clients. Unknown software errors then compounded the error with faulty filters. This will hardly inspire the government, who is relying hugely on Craigs to lead the process successfully. If their trading system is riddled with faulty filters easily distorted by clients entering rubbish bids, then the government should demand Craig either guarantee their system or spread the load amongst other brokers like First NZ, Forsyth Barr and Hamilton Hindin Greene.

As we are reminded by the wise writings of Warren Buffett, markets are determined by fear and greed. Ominously for the government, their vaunted SOE sales programme may well be defined by a troika of fear; fear of regulation, fear of Iwi interference, and fear of broker failure.

The Huddle

I was on The Huddle last evening with Josie Pagani and host Larry Williams. (Pam must have be running scared)

Our topics were:

No one owns water

This week the Maori Council are in front of the Waitangi Tribunal advancing their claim that Maori own the water in New Zealand.

A Waitangi Tribunal hearing began today after the Maori Council lodged a claim over the issue of water rights.

The hearing has been fast-tracked because of National’s partial asset sales programme and will consider whether Treaty claimants are being denied a future stake in the state-owned power companies and the broader questions of Maori water and geothermal rights.

The hearing got underway after and hour-long welcome ceremony.

Prime Minister John Key has made it clear that he believes nobody owns the water, but indecisive David Shearer wouldn’t offer an opinion no matter how many times he got asked.