$150m investment fund set up for Ngāpuhi as Government continues settlement negotiations

A $150 million investment fund has been set up for the benefit of Ngāpuhi as the Government continues settlement negotiations with the Northland iwi. 

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little made the announcement on Tuesday as MPs gathered at the Te Tii marae in Waitangi, often referred to as the 'lower marae' which has seen various political conflicts over the years. 

Little said the investment fund has been established so that the Crown has more options to put on the table for ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi in future negotiations. He said it will help ensure that ngā hapū do not miss out on opportunities for investment while they work towards negotiations.

"The ability to engage in meaningful negotiations for commercial redress is an important part of restoring the Crown's relationship with ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi," Little said. 

"This important work will sit alongside our continued work on restoring all aspects of our relationships with ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi, including mandate issues and having in depth discussions around issues such as He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti."

Sir Brian Roche, whose background involves chairing a wide range of boards including the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), has been appointed as the chair of the Ngāpuhi Investment Fund. 

In August 2020, he co-led a new group to support the Ministry of Health in improving COVID-19 border security. He has worked on a number of other negotiations for the Crown, and was the CEO of New Zealand Post between 2010 and 2017.

The board also includes Māori development consultant Ripeka Evans as deputy chair, Northland businessman Lindsay Faithfull, Chartered Accountant Sarah Petersen, and former group treasurer of the New Zealand Dairy Board Geoff Taylor.

Little said the fund can invest in a wide variety of New Zealand assets, including land-based businesses, as well as standard financial assets, to help it grow. 

Investment decisions will be made by the fund itself, according to its kaupapa and investment strategy, which will be developed by the independent board.

Little met with ngā hapū of Ngāpuhi across the region in August last year in a series of six regional hui to find out where the hapū of the country's largest iwi were at with negotiating their settlement. 

He said the Office of Māori-Crown relations would provide upfront funding to hapū for costs they incur in their preparation to settle their claims.

"Some are more advanced than others in terms of their preparation and organisation, others are still kind of finding their way and that's why I was keen to just gauge where things are at and whether there is additional support the Crown could be providing," Little said at the time. 

Little said while many hapū still wanted their own settlements, the Crown's preference was for a single payment to cover the overall settlement, which some leaders do not agree with. 

He said he would rather take the time to get the process right than rush it and try to come to an agreement with the iwi.