Deloitte’s Top 10 Māori organisations: let’s celebrate their success

Deloitte have released their list of the Top 10 Māori organisations for 2017. Joshua Hitchcock looks at the year’s big hitters.

20 years ago Ngāi Tahu settled their historical grievances with the Crown for $170 million. Over the past 20 years, they have developed an asset base of $1.67 billion through investment in property, primary industries, tourism, and the international sharemarkets; turning a settlement that returned only a fraction of a percent of the wealth that was confiscated from the iwi in the 19th century into the largest Māori organisation in the country.

This was the finding of the recently released Deloitte Top 200 list of the Top 10 Māori organisations in 2017. Established in 1990 to rank New Zealand’s largest businesses, the Deloitte Top 200 Awards include a category recognising Māori organisations that have contributed to a Māori economy valued at approximately $50 billion.

Number two on the list is Waikato-Tainui. From a settlement of $170 million in 1995, Waikato-Tainui weathered some early storms – none more controversial than their ill-fated investment in the Auckland Warriors – and have grown their asset base to $1.24 billion.

Rounding out the top three is Auckland hapū, Ngāti Whātua ō Ōrakei with $939 million. Located in downtown Auckland, the large increases in property values have driven strong returns for the hapū which manages a large property portfolio in the Auckland CBD.

At number four is Moana New Zealand – the only Māori company to break into the Top 200 New Zealand Company by revenue (#194). Moana New Zealand is the trading name of Aoteroa Fisheries Limited, the company set up under Te Ohu Kai Moana following the 1992 Sealord settlement. Assets of $540 million and recorded revenue of $176 million in 2017 has turned Moana New Zealand into one of the dominant players in the New Zealand fishing industry.

In fifth place is Tauhara North No. 2 Trust with $329 million. The Trust manages 326 hectares of land near Taupō and is heavily involved in geothermal power generation. Ngāi Tūhoe – Te Uru Taumata are in sixth with $328 million and Ngāti Porou with $223 million in eighth place round out the iwi on the list.

Two further land trusts are included: Parininiha ki Waitotara, set up to manage the Taranaki Reserve Lands following the land confiscations in the 19th century, manages a portfolio of dairy farms in Taranaki and has recorded total assets of $316 million. Pukeroa Oruawhata, with $204 million in assets, owns approximately 40 hectares of land in and around Rotorua and is actively pursuing further development opportunities in the city centred around the tourism, hotel, and spa industry. Rounding out the top 10 with $192 million in assets is Te Wānanga ō Aotearoa.

It’s important to acknowledge and recognise the success of these Māori organisations, and the many others that continue to grow in size and significance. Economic strength and independence supports and strengthens tino rangatiratanga. It allows communities to maintain and enhance their social, cultural, and environmental capital and creates powerful negotiating entities for interacting not just with government but other businesses. These awards recognise only the 10 largest organisations and there are thousands of other Māori organisations, big and small, contributing to the continued growth of the Māori economy. Considering where we were 20 years ago, this represents a significant achievement.

Wealth does not, however, equal income. And while these ten organisations have generated exceptional returns over the years to grow their collective asset bases, only one Māori company made it onto the Top 200 New Zealand Companies list by revenue. For the iwi and land trusts on this list, they are constantly striking a balance between striving to meet the very real and very large needs of their communities today and continuing to grow their asset base to ensure that future generations are also able to benefit. The job, in this respect, is only half done.

While our Māori organisations continue to grow, they are a long way short of the size required to fully support the realisation of our collective aspirations. Growing organisations large enough to support these aspirations will take several generations. And in this respect, Māori organisations are committed to the long term. When we talk of strategy, we do not think about the next quarterly financials, we look at the impact of our decisions on our community over the next 100 years. The Māori Aspirations Phase is only just getting started.

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