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Asset Sales, Water & Maori claims – an ‘elegant solution’

Written By: - Date published: 10:48 am, September 18th, 2012 - 14 comments
Categories: privatisation, treaty settlements, water - Tags:

It seems that whenever a matter arises that involves some claim of collective ownership or control by Maori, John Key comes up with what he describes as an ‘elegant solution’. If Key can come up with a string of such solutions I thought maybe I could give it a try. Therefore, this is my attempt at developing an ‘elegant solution’ to the matter of Maori claims to the ownership of water.

I will acknowledge from the outset that I have reservations it will satisfy all matters. However, other aspects of an ‘elegant solution package’ can be negotiated along with it. If the crown and Tuhoe can agree on a practical outcome to the control and ownership of the Urewera Forest, I have some faith other acceptable aspects can be added to my suggestion outlined below.

The solution is actually pretty simple. Keep the 3 remaining power generation companies in State ownership. Tag a portion of their annual state dividend and distribute it to Iwi on an annual basis according to some preset formula. The tagged portion might be, for example, 5%. It could be 10% or 50%. A formula for allocating the money might be based on a simple population basis or could incorporate other criteria deemed appropriate. The size of the ‘Maori dividend’ and the formula for the distribution would need to be widely negotiated & consulted on.

Inevitably there will be comment from some quarters about Maori receiving undeserved income which is being denied to everyone else. How they are being privileged. To ‘even up’ this ledger a little I propose an annual ‘rate payers’ dividend also be tagged to the power generators annual state dividend. As with the ‘Maori dividend’, every year a certain percentage of the ‘profit’ is paid to local authorities according to some preset formula. This could be on a straight population basis or might include criteria such as social-economic, rurality or some contestability for certain core infrastructure projects. Whatever the percentage tagged and whatever the distribution criteria can be determined by negotiation and consultation.

Thus, what we would have are state assets remaining in state ownership. The issue of Maori interests could be met, in part at least, with an annual dividend distributed to Iwi. The ‘interests’ of the rest would be met by a ‘rate-payers’ dividend. This second aspect, not only blunting the claim of Maori being privileged, would also put some strong incentive in place to keep assets in state ownership. Why would ‘hard working rate payers’ (how many times have we heard ACT/National bleat on about this section of the population) quickly forsake a steady income stream that enriches, or provides rate relief, their local council? To my mind, they wouldn’t.

So, the continual ownership of state assets is tied with providing regular income streams for Maori and rate payers. Maori grievances are (at least partially) soothed and ratepayers’ demands for rate relief partially met as well. The latter group then become strong advocates against a future government trying to sell of assets.

Perhaps an elegant solution. Probably not one John Key would champion but maybe attractive for another political party to promote.

– George


14 comments on “Asset Sales, Water & Maori claims – an ‘elegant solution’”

  1. lprent 1

    Why follow John? His elegant solutions never work.

    I mean the cycleway was meant to solve unemployment and he came up with that in 2009?
    We were meant to become the financial centre of the south pacific?

    In fact I can’t think of a single “elegant solution” of his that did work.

    Perhaps you should look for a different role model.

  2. BernyD 2

    Why not make the Shares permanently “Tax Payer Owned” in perpetuity.

    Maori are Taxpayers, and they want to retain ownership not rob other kiwis.
    The Government can still raise funds by selling shares to Taxpayers within NZ that can afford it.
    (Maybe a max of 5% per company / person).

    The Maori voice in NZ is a worthy one, their parliamentary system and voice will be with us for ever.
    It gives NZ a unique ability to express concerns from multiple perspectives, and will always help this country and it’s people.

    What we as a civilised country need to achieve is everyone understanding that they have a “Maori Representative” as well as a “Pakeha” one, we are all Taxpayers, We are all New Zealanders.

  3. Ed 3

    That solution may have some attractions, but it appears to fall into the National trap of thinking that money is all that matters to anyone – collective ownership and control may be a bit wider. Sure it may provide redress for some wrongs that cannot be righted any other way, but will it guarantee that water quality will not be degraded, that fish can still live in the river, that banks will not be degraded by water control measures that maximise profits, that the water flow will be sufficient for plant life and use of the water for boating (whether recreational or otherwise)? Will it prevent water being diverted, or restricted from being able to be used for irrigation (or over-use for irrigation)? Will it prevent some degradation of natural beauty or other desirable attributes for which Maori may have rights – either for themselves or shared with government or others? Will it enable management structure that allows monitoring into the future so that future problems can be resolved without degrading water and other rights?

    I suspect that Maori need to speak for themselves, but as a non-Maori citizen I have interests in many of those issues as well.

    And just on the money side, a different disaster would be if government just awarded a management contract to some “friendly’ multi-national to manage one of the companies “on behalf of government” – no assets sold, but a 25 year lock in to a soft profit target and no limit on expenses, and NAct objective achieved!

  4. prism 4

    Some ironical left-wing artist could make a necklace of keys and promote it as a string of elegant solutions. Just thinking.

  5. Are Maori Taxpayers ?
    Tainui and Ngai Tahu are charities so do not pay taxes.
    Our local council in its annual report has an item of non payable rates on Maori land.

  6. Populuxe1 6

    It strikes me that it isn’t entirely accurate to say that this will benefit Maori as a whole – it mainly benefits iwi. After all, it’s not just Pakeha who apparently can’t claim whakapapa with the land. What about the large pool of urban Maori who aren’t affiliated to a particular iwi?

    • BernyD 6.1

      This is the way of it in a Civilised world, some people don’t fit the “Measure”, yet are still living and breathing New Zealanders.

  7. Descendant Of Smith 7

    A better solution would be to split parliamentary seats fifty fifty so we have an equal partnership and Maori have an equal say at the outset.

    • BernyD 7.1

      I don’t know about 50/50.
      But all voices are worthy of hearing, if parliament was a group of qualified peers working to a common goal then the actual numbers would and should be irrelevent.

  8. Dr Terry 8

    Notice that idiot Romney also employed that word “elegant”. I guess, then, that we have two idiots.

  9. Jokerman 9

    i believe we are Obliged to maori. and personally, i thank them with gratitude.

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