Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ngati Tama ki Taranaki

I heard of news of Ngati Tama's financial turmoil while in Brisbane, just a hyperlink off my $2 for ten minutes internet access in a cheap hotel near the Roma St. train station. Couldn't download anything with pictures quick enough to trawl for details.

But it was enough to read the headline.

Their lands are to the north of the mountain...

Ngati Tama had their ringaringa in a range of companies: the Eel Enhancement Company; Original Pipe Traders; Open Group; and My Virtual Home. This last company is now in liquidation, over $12.5 million down the proverbial.
They are also the sole shareholder in Ikatuna which had dibs on Septic Solutions Taranaki and Tu'Ere Fishing. 
As it happens I met Ngati Tama CEO Greg White a couple of times, a man who could be called a straight shooter and be quietly proud of the label (which is a compliment after all in this country, Pakeha or Maori). Greg was a director in four of the companies, not an unusual thing at all, indeed any iwi should have highlevel board representation in thier investments.

That none of this worked is now well known.

Ngai Tahu commentator, Tahu Potiki, notes Ngai Tahu avoided IT and software start ups, the manifestation of conservative iwi investment profiles. He acknowledges that smaller iwi like Ngati Tama have a structural vulnerability in that they may struggle to recover from the bad years - several Ngai Tahu companies have experienced severe downturns - and as we now see, may be nearly wiped out by a few bad investments.

Ngati Mutunga chair, Dion Tuuta, is one of those now tasked with picking up the pieces. A safe pair of hands for troubled times. 

Anyway, let's finish on a positive...

Ko taku iwi tuaroa tēnā 

That is my backbone

(My backbone is sacred; do not dare touch it.)

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Simon Lambert

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