Port Nicholson Trust pressured to separate commercial arm

Article – BusinessDesk

Jan. 9 (BusinessDesk) – Port Nicholson Settlement Block Trust, which was set up to administer the $25 million settlement with Wellington iwi originally from Taranaki, is under pressure from one of its members to carve out the management of its commercial …

Port Nicholson Settlement Trust under pressure to carve out commercial unit

By Paul McBeth

Jan. 9 (BusinessDesk) – Port Nicholson Settlement Block Trust, which was set up to administer the $25 million settlement with Wellington iwi originally from Taranaki, is under pressure from one of its members to carve out the management of its commercial operations.

Taranaki Whanui (Wellington Atiawa Maori) wants the structure of the trust, which doesn’t separate the political and commercial operations, to be split along the lines adopted by Tainui and Ngai Tahu. PNSBT reported a loss of $3.1 million for the 12 months ended March 31 last year, and its cash holdings depleted to $6.9 million from the original settlement.

“It is imperative that the PNSBT’s structure is changed, to provide separation between the delivery of social and cultural programmes and the management of our commercial assets,” Taranaki Whanui said in a statement. “The lack of separation is not best practice. It opens up the risk of internal political interference in the running of the commercial operation, and the two require completely different cultural approaches and skill sets.”

Last year, the PNSBT trustees appointed NIWA deputy chairman Craig Ellison to review its trust deed, relating in particular to the trust’s electoral process and other aspects of representation. A final hui is to be held in the Hutt Valley on Jan. 16.

The trustees were “concerned at the level of expenditure and are working hard to turn non-performing properties around and to limit expenditure as much possible,” they said in the trust’s September newsletter.

The group representing three Wellington-based Atiawa marae criticised the $1 million spent on the Wharewaka building on Wellington’s waterfront, saying ownership should have stayed with the trust rather than in a new charitable trust.

The Port Nicholson settlement was with people of Te Atiawa, Taranaki, Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Tama and others including Ngati Mutunga from a number of Taranaki iwi who migrated to Wellington. The block runs from the Rimutaka Summit to the South Coast at Pipinui Point (Boomrock) around the coastline to Turakirae in the east and up the Rimutaka ridgeline to the summit.

As part of the settlement, the trust spent $15 million buying the old Shelly Bay air force base on the Miramar peninsula and last year initiated the process to buy the $40 million Wellington Railway Station.

It is also looking at buying the abandoned Petone College, and has the opportunity to purchase the land under certain properties and lease that land back to the government for as long as. These properties include Archives New Zealand, the National Library of New Zealand, the High Court, and Wellington Girls’ College.

(BusinessDesk)

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