The husband of a Cabinet minister will broker a series of talks with Maori on the Government's partial asset sales plan.
Sir Wira Gardiner, who is married to Education Minister Hekia Parata, was today announced as the "facilitator" of a series of hui to consult with Maori on legislative changes for the partial float of four state-owned enterprises.
"We promised to talk with iwi when we originally announced plans to partially sell the four energy companies and Air New Zealand last year," Finance Minister Bill English said.
"We want to understand Maori views before we take final decisions."
State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said specific investment opportunities would not canvassed at the hui, but iwi investment on a commercial basis would be welcomed.
Support for asset sales among iwi is dwindling. The Maori Party switched positions on the issue and now oppose the sales. Tuku Morgan came out in support of the Maori Party’s position so, presumably, he opposes the sales too. Ngai Tahu’s Mark Solomon appears to be the only iwi leader left interested. The other members of the Iwi Chairs Forum have not stated their positions, at least not publicly. However, we can probably assume Mana Party supporter Professor Margaret Mutu opposes the sale. Ngati Porou are directing their treaty resources towards agriculture, forestry and science and innovation. So, I would assume, Apirana Mahuika will not lend Ngati Porou’s support for asset sales. I’m not prepared to take a stab at the positions of the other leaders, but their positions aren’t that important anyway. Ngai Tahu and Tainui are the only iwi with any chance of getting a decent slice, and even then they will have to pool their resources.
Of course, iwi politics will prevent an iwi consortium forming. Tuku Morgan, who first floated the idea of forming an iwi conglomerate, cannot control his own table let alone a dozen more. Toxic politics affects most iwi and will undermine efforts to form a functioning and sustainable company.
Hopefully the iwi leaders, or whoever turns up to these consultation hui, voice the position of the majority of Maori – no asset sales.