Ngai Tahu's financial acumen praised

The economic foresight of Ngai Tahu has won the praise of the influential Wall St Journal.

The article, published last week, noted the iwi had gone from being ''impoverished, virtually landless'' to one of New Zealand's wealthiest tribes with group assets totalling $1.03 billion.

Following the $170 million treaty settlement the iwi took part in a series of ''astute investments'', enabling it to restore marae and support health and education programmes for its 50,000 members.

Its investment approach was compared with United States Ivy League school endowment funds, such as those of Harvard and Yale, which had returned 11.3% and 12.0% respectively for the year ended June 2013.

Ngai Tahu returned 25.3% over the same period.

The majority of Ngai Tahu's investment assets were in commercial real estate, residential property and rural land (61%), capital markets (22%), tourism (9%) and seafood (8%).

Its 6% stake in Ryman Healthcare was singled out, as that had nearly doubled in value in 2012 and was now valued at $252 million.

Last week the iwi announced it had bought the cutting rights to 22,800ha of forests located on 49,300ha of land owned and managed by its wholly owned subsidiary Ngai Tahu Forest Estates.

Settlement was expected to occur on April 30.

The cutting rights for the Crown forest were sold to Ngai Tahu under a first right of refusal dating back to their 1997 treaty settlement.

Last year, Ngai Tahu Property announced plans to build a $20 million hostel for Otago Polytechnic on a $2 million piece of surplus Dunedin City Council land on the edge of Logan Park.

-hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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