Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Iwi share offer

Last week the Government announced that iwi who are yet to settle their historical Treaty claims will be able to choose to take part of the value of their settlement as shares in the energy companies that are to be partially privatized.

A joint press statement by the Minister of Finance and the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations states:
Each Iwi would be limited to 5 per cent, 10 per cent or 12.5 per cent of their likely total settlement, depending on their situation.     
  • A 5 per cent maximum of their likely settlement would be available for Iwi not “local” to any of the power companies’ assets – for example, if there was no dam or other operating asset within the Iwi’s area. 
  • A 10 per cent limit would apply to Iwi who are “local” to any of the companies. 
  • A 12.5 per cent limit would apply to Iwi who are “local” to any of the companies, had reached an Agreement in Principle with the Crown, and had already agreed a quantum amount for settlement. 

As the Māori Council has noted, this does not address any claims to water, or alter the value of any settlement.  If iwi who have not yet settled do not take up this offer, they will receive cash or other assets instead of shares.

There are also some interesting quirks to this offer.  Iwi who take up this offer not be eligible for loyalty bonuses that will be available to individual New Zealanders who purchase shares.  And presumably iwi who have already reached an Agreement in Principle are eligible to use a greater percentage of the value of their settlement because there is some certainty around what that final value is, but it does rather look as though this is simply a reward for being cooperative.

In any case, the offer seems to be entirely politically motivated with the objective of dividing Māori on this issue and taking some of the sting out of opposition to the Government's rejection of the Waitangi Tribunal's recommendations.