Today the Government begins a round of six consultation hui on the "share plus" concept. This was raised in the Waitangi Tribunal's report regarding the mixed-ownership model's implications for iwi interests in water.
Shares plus refers to the idea that certain Māori interests be given particular rights and powers, above and beyond the rights of other shareholders. These could relate to director appointments and implemented by way of shareholder agreements, for example. The Tribunal considered that shares on their own would provide insufficient recognition of Māori interests in water.
In response, the Government concluded that shares plus should not be implemented, reasoning:
- it is unworkable as a matter of company law;
- it would make the companies less attractive to investors and less valuable;
- redress and recognition of Māori interests could be achieved in other ways; and
- obligations to address Māori grievances rest with the Crown and not with the companies.
Despite this conclusion, the Government decided to delay the initial public offering of Mighty River Power until the first half of 2013 and to undertake a short period of consultation with iwi on shares plus. The delay and consultation hui will likely put the Crown on firmer legal ground in the face of threatened court action, even though falling short of the "national hui" and national settlement proposed by the Tribunal. This reflects the Prime Minister's view that arrangements be made "iwi by iwi, waterway by waterway" and not on a national basis.
Finance Minister Bill English and Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson are expected to attend the hui between them. A number of iwi are reported to be planning to boycott the hui , in favour of the "national hui" being held at Turangawaewae Marae.
The following hui will be held:
- Hamilton (Tainui waka iwi including Waikato, Hauraki, Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Koroki Kahukura), Tuesday 18 September
- Taupo (Ngāti Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa), Wednesday 19 September
- Whangaui (Whanganui iwi), Wednesday 19 September
- Te Kuiti (Tainui waka iwi Ngāti Maniopoto), Wednesday 26 September
- Tuai (Waikaremoana iwi including Ngai Tuhoe, Ngāti Ruapani and Ngāti Kahungungu ki te Wairoa), Thursday 27 September
- Christchurch (Ngai Tahu), Thursday 27 September
Affected iwi are also invited to write to the Government by Friday 5 October.