Mark Solomon

Wall Street Journal praises tribe: are you watching up north?

Ngai Tahu comes in for significant plaudits from one of the highest sources of praise possible – the Wall Street Journal.

Then, in 1998, the tribe made a bold bet. Rather than distribute a historic 170 million New Zealand dollars (US$144 million currently) settlement with the New Zealand government among its people, it invested the money in everything from real estate and stocks to tourist attractions.

A series of astute investments have since transformed Ng?i Tahu’s fortunes, enabling leaders to pump funds into restoring its meeting houses and supporting health and education programs. In doing so, the 50,000-strong Ng?i Tahu has become one of New Zealand’s wealthiest tribes even as it eschews opportunities such as gambling that run counter to its values. A number of New Zealanders of Ng?i Tahu descent have gone on to international success, including rugby player Piri Weepu.

“It is a hand up, not a handout,” said Mark Solomon, chairman of Ng?i Tahu’s tribal council.? Read more »

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.

An outstanding idea

Iwi are looking at the opportunity afforded by the mixed?ownership?model:

An alliance of Maori tribes plan to buy up to 20 per cent of any state-owned power companies put up for partial sale by the new National Government.

Prime Minister John Key is sticking by his party’s plan to sell up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy in the wake of National’s election win on Saturday.

He has rejected suggestions his party lacks a mandate to partially sell off the state-owned assets.

Ngai Tahu chair Mark Solomon this morning told Radio New Zealand a consortium of tribes were interested in a large stake in the companies.

The partnership would work because iwi would not on-sell the shares overseas and would reinvest dividends in New Zealand, he said.

I think this is an outstanding idea – have an alliance of Maori tribes join the mixed ownership model the Government won re-election on.

Next step – ?imagine IwiSaver – a Kiwisaver provider that invests in the future retirement savings of Maori New Zealanders. The bulk of their investing would probably be subcontracted out to one or more funds managers, but think of the ongoing wealth that could be created by Maoridom – in NZ assets. Have a special “IwiSaver” contribution rate of 1% for Maoris on salaries to contribute and get matching contributions for their own accounts.

Promoting Maori financial literacy, self-sufficiency and an ongoing partnership between Iwi and the Crown in infrastructure – can surely only be a good thing?