The AECT money grab

I would like to thank Cam Slater for bringing the attempt to hijack the huge Auckland Energy Consumers Trust money to buy a train set.  That money belongs to the Electricity Consumers, and is held “in Trust” on their behalf.  The interest on that money is distributed to the consumers in a handsome annual check.

While I can sympathise with the Aucklanders as they grapple with the powerful, I have a major concern that if they did manage to change the legislation, Tauranga will try to follow suit.  Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT) has a value of around $850 million.  It distributes 80% of its dividends to their consumers who live in the original area of Trust Power when it was privatised, and 20% to the community organisations for things like equipment, buildings and events.  The cheques to the consumers this year were around $350 per Trust Power  household.  This money is really important to those with limited resources.  It has saved many a household’s finances, because it is a large enough sum to make a difference.

Some years ago the consumers voted to retain the 80-20 split by a good majority, in spite of a push by some who wanted all the money to go to community organisations, Councils etc.

The battle was fierce for this big pot of money.  My personal position has always been that the money made a huge difference to the very poor, and that big organisations such as the Councils, golf clubs etc could find their own money, not take it off the poor.

The previous Chair of TECT was a man of absolute principle, and he was staunch in his support of the 80-20 principle as that was the result of a democratic vote.  But what about the future?  Can we be sure that new board members will not be seduced by the “big idea” and let the money be taken for our local equivalence of a train set?  The University  of Waikato has already been approved for a large grant from TECT for a building in the CBD.  What happens when they keep coming back for more?

When the next elections come around, we will need to be assiduous in our questioning of potential trustees to ensure we know where they stand on this issue.  Do they want to take it away from those who personally need it badly to give it to those who are already big and powerful?

And if the rich and powerful believe they can break long standing trusts because they want the money, where will it end?  There are other Trusts all over the country ripe for a take-over.  This is morally wrong on all counts and I am dismayed that so many people are prepared to put their name to what is surely theft and is certainly totally unprincipled.  In fact it is asset stripping from the poor to the rich.  We cannot and must not let that happen.

Frances Denz MNZM



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  • johnnymanukau.

    Well written FD you are 100% correct and the puppets [WHO IS PULLING THEIR STRINGS] in the Auckland City Council will become complicit criminals if they allow the AECT to change the rules, that is if they can be changed.

  • JC

    I don’t know what the Deed of Trust says but I imagine it would be a criminal act to seize its assets without near unanimous approval of the shareholders. Similarly, any promises made that persuaded shareholders to give it up would be liable to criminal proceedings if the money wasn’t used precisely as promised.

    I also struggle with the concept that shares in an electricity trust could be wound up and converted to non electricity uses. Public trusts, like other property laws are sacred things designed to keep us from being failed states.


  • Abjv

    The biggest Trusts ripe for the picking have the words ‘KiwiSaver fund’ tied in front of them. Russell Norman has already suggested where the money should be ‘invested’.

  • Watcher

    I am so pleased that WO has brought this issue to our attention.
    The question for me is, if not for WO who would push this?
    Why is there a reluctance by the MSM to actually do investigative journalism, apart from the lack of learning/teaching skills at the MSM academy..whatever that may be.

    Edit, a word.

    • taurangaruru

      MSM is no fan of “rich prick” organisations, their socialist mantra says private ownership means nothing & if you are worth a few bob then it must be taken from you & shared amoungst the comrades.

      • caochladh

        Exactly so. I see Rudman has earmarked the money already to restore the Civic theater.

      • Watcher

        Well surely that is exactly what happens now.
        The profits are distributed amongst the comrades under the present situation.

  • Platinum Fox

    The tricky part is that the electricity consumer trusts will all terminate after 80 years (in 2073). Those of us who are income beneficiaries of the trusts should perhaps consider lobbying government to remove the perpetuity period restrictions that apply to these trusts.
    My brief read of the TECT trust deed tonight indicates that at least the income beneficiaries of TECT receive an equal share of the trust’s assets if a successor trust on like terms is not created. Contrast that with the AECT trust deed which gifts the consumers’ capital assets to the local authorities that exist in 2073 and contain the former AEPB district!

    I also found that TECT’s 20% distribution for community projects though the TECT Charitable Trust is permitted for “the carrying out of projects or other community initiatives which in the opinion of the Trustees will benefit Consumers”. “‘Consumer’ covers electricity customers, the TECT Charitable Trust and entities wholly owned and/or controlled by TECT and whose beneficiaries and objectives are substantially the same as TECT’s”.
    I’m struggling to understand how a building at the University of Waikato qualifies.