Tuhoe slice of Genesis no deal 'sweetener'

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2012
Tuhoe nation
PETER DRURY/Waikato Times
SHARING: Tuhoe has indicated it is interested in shares in Genesis, sparked by common interests in Lake Waikaremoana.

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Tuhoe is poised to go from acrimony with the Government to a partnership by snapping up shares in the state-owned Genesis Energy as part of its Treaty settlement.

The Government yesterday announced shares in the power companies it will float will be available as part of the Treaty settlements for 65 iwi.

Tuhoe has quickly indicated it is interested in shares in Genesis, sparked by common interests in Lake Waikaremoana.

"We're very interested in an arrangement with Genesis," Tuhoe negotiator Tamati Kruger said. "We're at the starting gates saying to you that we do have an interest."

Because Tuhoe interests extend across Lake Waikaremoana - which is used for three dams by Genesis Energy - the Government's share offer will allow up to 12.5 per cent of the Tuhoe Treaty settlement to be issued in Genesis stock.

Mr Kruger said Tuhoe and Genesis management had already held a meeting, with another planned before the end of the year.

However, every iwi would have to look closely at the potential benefits from any investment in the companies.

"When we invest our money, we may think that we're investing in Waikaremoana - [but] we're buying shares in Huntly, Tekapo etc. We need to realise how big this company is and how they make decisions."

The relationship between Tuhoe and the Crown - already historically fractious - went sour over the 2007 police raids in the Urewera ranges.

It was also damaged in 2010 when Prime Minister John Key stepped in over Treaty negotiations to rule out Tuhoe sovereignty of Urewera National Park.

But last month the beginnings of a settlement between the Crown and Tuhoe was announced, with a deed of settlement expected by the end of the year.

Shares in Genesis, as well as Meridian Energy, will go on the market within a year of the Mighty River Power float, which is expected to take place between April and June next year.

Finance Minister Bill English said the shares option was not designed to stave off likely court action over the water-rights issue.

"It's not a sweetener."

If all 65 iwi without a Treaty settlement took up the share offer it would be worth about $145 million, but that was unlikely.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said the share offers were designed to "buy off Maori and split them up".

"Divide and rule is the name of that game."

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