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Things other than States

Written By: - Date published: 9:26 am, August 25th, 2016 - 17 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, ACC, capitalism, Deep stuff, Politics, treaty settlements - Tags:

Recently Bowalley Road complained about post-settlement organisations forming a Maori middle class. Like it was a bad thing. I’m also hearing people on the left decry the idea of the state. Being an only slightly repentant modernist statist Labour supporter, I thought I might find alternatives. The tests I looked for were:

  • It had to be in New Zealand
  • It had to be working
  • It had to be dedicated to being good for New Zealanders
  • It had to make sufficient money to keep going
  • It had to not falter under political change every three years

Finally, I had to imagine this as a realistic alternative.

Ngai Tahu Holdings

Granted, it’s a creature formed by the state in a statute. Is that a design flaw, or just motivation for the journey?

But here’s the link, and here’s the summary.

In 1999 it had total assets of just over $200 million. Now, it has total assets of $1,348,275, and total equity of $1,149,000.

Its group asset profile by equity is:

  • Development properties 11%
  • Investment properties 21%
  • Rural land 17%
  • Ryman Healthcare 18%
  • Ngai Tahu Capital 16%
  • Seafood (including Settlement quota) 12%

To break just one of those down, Ngai Tahu Capital includes Whalewatch Kaikoura, Waikato Milking Systems, Go Bus, and Private Equity investments.

Out of that, every year they get to give out a total of $6,480,000, including $360,000 in straight grants. They can show you who gets those, right across their many, many thousands of registered beneficiary individuals, families, and organisations. Have a look at some of the stories.

Now, of course they have internal contests for power. With that amount of power, they probably should. You can delve into whether you think it operates like your version of a democracy for yourself. But it does its job: to be good to its many people for the very, very long term.

Is this socialism? Is this a state within a state? Is it some unholy unnamed amalgam of state, tribe, business, welfare agency, landlord, and shareholder? Does it need a category name after all? They’ll never be taken over, never be voted out of office, and always represent their people.

Here’s just one more.

Accident Compensation Commission

Because ACC now collects enough levies to cover the lifetime cost of each injury, it’s now fully funded. In 2009, it posted the biggest loss in New Zealand corporate history: $4.8 billion. It took a pretty hard-nosed approach to get ACC back to a financially sustainable position, which you can debate. In 2012 it had liabilities of $28.5 billion, and assets of $24 billion. It intends to be fully self-funding by 2019. No more levies, no more PAYE extraction, no more government contributions, and lower petrol taxes.
Independent, perpetual, permanent, guilt-free accident rehabilitation. Within three years.

It’s not as generous as it once was, nor as generous as it could be. But let’s remind ourselves that it covers all work-related injuries, and all non-work related injuries, and that’s whether you’re an income earner or not. And also covers injuries as a result of medical treatment. That’s how much of a money-sucking private insurance industry we almost totally avoid.

It covers tourists, morons and other people who keep doing the same thing over and over again, and every citizen doing everything you can think of accidentally (with exception of in the act of committing a crime with a jail time of two years or more). They help us through 1.8 million injuries a year, plus hundreds of thousands of ongoing cases. All the way from bruised paperboy to funeral costs. That’s a lot of New Zealanders.

Both Ngai Tahu and ACC are creatures of the state. Both are well on their way to becoming entirely independent of the state. Both are clear about who their beneficiaries are. Both make big mistakes that impact on people. Neither will ever be as big as the state. Both have massive public profiles, and aren’t companies in the ordinary sense, or democracies in the ordinary sense.

Ngai Tahu incorporated and ACC are their own non-state worlds. They exist more and more as examples of what life without dependence upon the state could become. Whether they supplant the state or not, they are an alternative.

17 comments on “Things other than States ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Both of those sound like entities within a state rather than something other than a state. And what you’ve written doesn’t sound like it’s any better than the state anyway. IMO, it probably adds more bureaucracy and inefficiencies.

    ACC could be done by the state and without having to be fully funded. In fact, without it having to be funded at all. When some one has an accident ACC simply writes the check and takes over paying their full weekly wage. The money paid would actually be new money but, because claims are actually a near constant, it would be easy to have that new money covered by taxes taking it back out and thus removing inflation via excess money in circulation.

    Why insurance should be a state monopoly

    As for Ngai Tahu Holdings? Well, the government could easily build infrastructure and then use that infrastructure to ensure that everyone has a good living standard rather than just a few select people. In other words, Ngai Tahu Holdings is just another capitalist entity that’s probably causing damage to the society around it through it’s drive for profit.

    • weka 1.1

      Solve the economic issues and there would still be cultural issues.

      An example would be cultural safety within health care. If you have a dominant population that doesn’t understand the cultural needs of the non-dominant populations, then the health care for the non-dominant peoples is inadequate.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        An example would be cultural safety within health care.

        WTF does that actually mean?

          • Draco T Bastard

            So, what you’re saying is that it’s already being addressed. Good.

            • weka

              I haven’t looked at it for a long time, but I would guess, listening to what Māori say about society in general, that it’s being addressed in part, probably some improvements have been made, but that because society is still largely a dominanting on it’s not being addressed in the way it would be if Māori were able to deliver their own health services (which they should be able to do under the Treaty). And cultural safety principles apply beyond health. You could say there are similar issues in education, welfare etc.

        • Michelle

          We already have cultural safety in nursing introduced and advocated for by the late Dr Irihapeti Ramsden and when she lobbied for this all the red necks came out and said quote ‘what do we need cultural safety in nursing for’ they said we treat everyone the same. But the problem is we are not all the same we have different cultures and beliefs.
          Weka we don’t just have economic woes in NZ we have huge social problems
          because we have a government that does not care and does not have any decent social policy. Economic policy is about money social policy is more about people, Unfortunately our government priorities are about money power and control.

  2. weka 2

    “Whether they supplant the state or not, they are an alternative”

    Yeah, but so is feudalism, or a dictatorship. Isn’t the point of alternatives to provide something better?

    ACC. Ruataniwha. Back to the drawing board on that one Ad.

    Ngāi Tahu Holdings. I’ve been arguing for a while that Iwi should be considered alongside the State, rather than seeing them as ‘private’ organisations (the Treaty and all that). If Kāi Tahu want Ngāi Tahu Holdings to operate to the best of its ability within the neoliberal, capitalist economy that it’s been forced into, then it’s hard to hold that against them all things considered. NTH are then open to the same kinds of criticisms that other businesses are (eg what they do with tourism and diary farming is problematic environmentally), but Pākehā need to be careful to not hold NTH more accountable because they are Iwi based. I think a better example is not NTH, but Kāi Tahu itself, the rūnaka structure and processes, and looking at how in the not too distant past people in NZ managed resources collectively for the good of all and had sophisticated cultural and social mechanisms for doing that. Lots we could be learning there.

  3. Justathought 3

    Ngai Tahu Holdings:

    “Is this socialism? Is this a state within a state? Is it some unholy unnamed amalgam of state, tribe, business, welfare agency, landlord, and shareholder?”

    No Ad. It’s none of those, it’s a charity, and all of it’s subsidiaries are charities, paying zero in tax.

    And “every year they get to give out a total of $6,480,000, including $360,000 in straight grants”, well that’s very easy to do when you are permitted to expense the grants against income which was, before the grants, $89,000,000 in 2015 and for which, if they were not a charity, they will have had to put aside $27,000,000 for in taxes, y’now to help the rest of NZ out, to contribute to the cost of schools and hospitals but instead they choose to give away just a quarter of what a regular business would face in taxes and by doing so manage to fool some people of their benevolent generosity.


    • Brutus Iscariot 3.1

      Both the Maori and religious organisation tax exemptions should be ended forthwith.

      • Justathought 3.1.1

        I agree with you Brutus.

        Anybody or any organisation which trades for profit, ie; exceeds income over expenditure, should pay tax on that trading excess like everybody else whether it’s Sanitarium, Ngai Tahu, Kidscan, the Salvation Army or whoever.

        Donations are different since tax has already, presumably, been paid by the donor before giving, but trading tax-free puts these entities at a huge economic advantage. In the case of Ngai Tahu their trading surpluses for the last five years alone total $350 Million dollars on which profits they should have paid $117 Million in taxes but instead they paid nothing. That’s not right, in my opinion.

  4. srylands 4

    “It intends to be fully self-funding by 2019. No more levies, no more PAYE extraction, no more government contributions, and lower petrol taxes.”
    That is incorrect. What will cease in 2019 is the RESIDUAL levies that allowed past claims to be fully funded. The assets built up and the investment income will cover the long tail of claims. But ACC will still need to raise enough revenue each year to cover the full cost of new claims generated in that year. It will still do that by levies on income (earners account) and petrol (MV account). Also the Government will need to meet the cost of the non-earners account, which is not, and will never be, fully funded.

    So sorry. It is not suddenly going to become free!

    From the ACC Annual Report:

    “Full funding assumes that the funding to pay all current obligations comes from the current assets and future investment income earned on these assets. By raising enough revenue each year to cover that year’s full cost of claims, the Scheme will be financially sustainable and fair to each generation of New Zealanders….

    Levies are set by the Government and we welcome the Government’s decision to discontinue residual levies before the legislated date of 31 March 2019…”


  5. The relatonship between NTH and TRONT may be a good model to look at. Kinship ties, whakapapa, political and economic power, Ngai Tahu whānau, the Rūnanga system and reps, non iwi managers – very complex and very interesting.

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