Tainui assets top $1b as 20th anniversary of Treaty settlement looms

Mike Pohio, Tainui Group Holdings Chief Executive

Waikato's Tainui iwi has recorded total tribal assets worth more than $1 billion for the first time since the $170 million settlement of its Treaty of Waitangi claims by the Bolger government in 1995.

This year's annual report is the first to combine all the results of operating entities associated with the tribe under the umbrella of the Waikato Raupatu Trust Fund, established when Tainui and the South Island iwi Ngai Tahu blazed a trail for mega-settlements of Treaty grievances with the Crown.

The assets are a mixture of cash, industrial, residential and agricultural investments, which were bolstered in the past year by the acquisition of all the shares in Hamilton's Riverview hotel and a minority stake in agri-tech company Waikato Milking Systems, in a joint venture with Ngai Tahu.

Other income sources include fisheries quota leasing revenue and ongoing top-ups from the Crown under the ratchet clauses built into early Treaty settlements to preserve relativity for Tainui with later tribal settlements.

The trust assets are valued at $1.1 billion in the accounts for the year ended March 31, which the chairman of Te Arataura a Waikato-Tainui, Rahui Papa, described as "a milestone of which we can and should be proud."

From those assets, the tribe derived total operating income of $74.5 million, up 18 percent on the previous year, to produce a net operating profit of $23 million, up 27 percent.

Reflecting the full takeover of the Hamilton hotel and a "very good year" at the Novotel hotel at Auckland International Airport, hotel income rose from $19.2 million in the previous year to $27.9 million in the latest year, second only as an operating revenue source to rental income, which was up slightly at $35.5 million.

The trust paid no tax, being able to draw on past tax losses to yield a tax benefit in the year of $1.6 million.

Other income of $31.9 million included unrealised gains of $8.2 million on interest rate swaps. The trust recorded unrealised losses on listed and unlisted company shares of $469,000 and $2.3 million respectively.

With respect to its trading arms, the combined net operating earnings of Tainui Group Holdings, which owns most of the tribe's land developments, and Waikato-Tainui Fisheries, was $27 million, a 30 percent improvement on the previous year, allowing a combined dividend of $13.9 million to be declared.

Ratchet clause top-ups received during the year were worth $20.9 million, down from $70 million the year before, creating one of the more volatile elements in the trust's total comprehensive income profile.

This year's net profit, taking account of non-trading items, was $70.8 million compared with $110.8 million the previous year, reflecting the larger Treaty settlement flows in the prior period.

Investment properties continue to comprise the trust's single largest asset class, at $564.9 million, followed by cash at $172.1 million and property, plant and equipment, at $140.2 million.

Total debt, at $182 million or 27 percent of assets, remains below the trust's upper threshold of 30 percent.

(BusinessDesk)

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