Issue Number 01/88 26 January 1988
E nga iwi, e nga hau e wha, tena koutou katoa.
Just over a year ago when I headed the MANA Enterprises Project Team I started a newsletter in an attempt to provide information to the Tribal & Regional Authorities. That fledgling effort seemed to be well received but unfortunately it was stopped and later efforts were intermittent to say the least. The Maori ACCESS Unit publishes an excellent newsletter, He Huarahi Hou, but that is necessarily concerned only with Maori ACCESS.
Since leaving the MANA Team I have continued to come by information which I believe should be passed on to the network of Tribal & Regional Authorities. When we set up MANA and ACCESS we shared with you all a total commitment to empowering the IWI.
Those of us who held to that kaupapa in Wellington were not universally popular, particularly when we opened up the communications and started to share information, and with it the power that information brings. Do you remember when the MANA facsimile was installed? How many are there now?
Following the allegations and investigations into the Te Arawa Maori Trust Board and the actions taken against Alec Wilson and Waaka Vercoe I have decided that too much information is not reaching the Authorities. So I am starting a private newsletter to get that information to you. Initially I will cover the costs and hopefully I will be able to find corporate sponsorship to keep it going. I believe that the information must start flowing again, and that if our network is to flourish the information is essential.
This first issue will cover the inside story on the Te Arawa Affair, and some observations on Devolution, MANA Enterprises, Maori ACCESS and the Federation of Maori Authorities. Finally there will be a list of Facsimile numbers so that those of you who have them can start communicating.
In the future I hope to cover news from the Board of Maori Affairs, the New Zealand Maori Council, and other national bodies that make decisions on behalf of us all. Hopefully too you will contribute news from the regions.
Kia Ora Tatou,
Te Arawa Maori Trust Board - Who Needs Investigating?
On 10 December 1987 the Minister of Maori Affairs ordered an investigation into a MANA loan made by Te Arawa to Whakaari Developments Ltd. He also withdrew the authority for Alec Wilson (Deputy Chairman) and Waaka Vercoe (Secretary and Chief Executive) to countersign Board cheques, and suspended all payments from the Public Account to the Te Arawa Maori Trust Board. The immediate effect of this was to freeze most financial activities. It removed from Te Arawa the ability to pay Maori ACCESS trainee allowances and Training Provider installments. The Board is cooperating with the Rotorua Maori Trustee to provide payment details so that Maori ACCESS can continue, using the Trustee as banker.
The Department of Maori Affairs has taken it's own action against Alec Wilson because of concern at Alec's role with the Te Arawa Trust Board and in particular his involvement with Whakaari Developments. Alec has been "transferred" from his appointment as Coordinating MATLO for the Waiariki District to "special duties at Rotorua District Office under the personal direction of Mr Workman." He has been fired - almost. A relieving Senior MATLO has been appointed by Kim Workman.
Let's go right back to the beginning. In 1983 a joint venture between the Te Arawa Trust Board, the Maori Trustee and a private corporation was in danger of being placed in receivership because the private firm withdrew from the venture. The Maori Trustee decided to restructure and to form a subsidiary of Te Arawa called Whakaari Developments Ltd to manage the nursery project at Maketu. Alec Wilson was asked to become a Director and this action was approved by the Board of Maori Affairs. The shares in Whakaari are presently held by Alec and one other board member on behalf of the Board, a common procedure.
Alec Wilson has been Deputy Chairman of the Te Arawa Board since 1984.
Early last year when Maori ACCESS was being implemented, Kim Workman appointed Alec to be interim Senior MATLO for Waiariki, and when the position was advertised about six months later Alec was asked to apply. He did and was formally appointed, presumably by the Department and the State Services Commission. At that stage he already held the elected position of Deputy Chairman of the Trust Board, and of course was already a Director of Whakaari, a fact known to the Maori Trustee and the Board of Maori Affairs. This would (or should) have been known to the Department as well.
Now to the "second loans affair."
On 5 November 1987 the Prime Minister said another loans affair would become public before Christmas and Maori people would again be made to look silly by the new initiative. Just over a month later he confirmed (Dominion 9/12/87) that he had ordered an Audit Office inquiry after receiving information about another potential financial scandal involving the Department of Maori Affairs. He said the affair involved staff who had travelled overseas on the department's money, but had interests in a private company. Alec is the only Maori Affairs staff member involved in Whakaari or any of it's associated projects, and he hasn't been overseas for ten years! At about the same time or a little earlier the Department issued an edict that no Maori Affairs staff member was allowed to be involved in a private company (I haven't checked the legality of that one yet but very much doubt that it is a legal order).
No doubt the Prime Minister has many sources of reliable information and would naturally have double checked before launching another embarrassing incident upon Maoridom. Where did his information come from? All we know is that Dr Reedy stated on Te Karere that he had received "intelligence" and had passed this to the Prime Minister. We are not privy to the source or nature of this "intelligence".
What is Whakaari Developments up to?
Go back to the original loans affair, the one initiated by the Department itself. At that time Mr Rocky Cribb was a consultant to Maori Affairs reporting to Neville Baker. He was sent to Hawaii to investigate a project to supply kit-set homes to indigenous Hawaiians. In the course of his work he was made an offer of a large loan for Maoridom. He brought this offer back to the Department and shortly after ceased working for them. Someone else decided to continue the loan negotiations but Mr Cribb somehow received a lot of the blame. The original housing deal was and still is a viable and lucrative business opportunity for Maoridom.
As Rocky had done all the investigations into the housing deal, had all the information, and was a Te Arawa "asset", it is not surprising that some enterprising Te Arawa people decided to renew negotiations. This project is dependent on a "people to people" relationship between Maoridom and the Hawaiians, and for this reason the Federation of Maori Authorities was approached to sponsor the project, and agreed. Whakaari Developments Ltd became the corporate vehicle for the deal on the understanding that it would be transferred to the Federation. The Federation firstly needed to become an incorporated body and to form a private subsidiary company to take everything over.
Consultants to the project include Willie Wilson, Rocky Cribb, Don Brebner (Managing Director, Portal Lock Kit Set Homes), and Bob Wilson (Director Jadixx International and the businessman of the Wilson family). All consultants received no pay. Those who travelled overseas received expenses only. In fact Portal-lock paid for the trip to Hawaii. After I left MANA Enterprises I became involved and my contribution included advice on MANA loans. Alec has received no financial benefit from this or any other project. His position is essentially Project Chairman.
Other projects have been studied. Some have been rejected, some passed on to other Tribal groups or representatives, and some retained to be developed as projects for Maoridom, hopefully under the umbrella of the Federation of Maori Authorities.
Now to the MANA loan.
The Te Arawa MANA Committee approved a loan of $390,000 to Whakaari Developments Ltd on 26 October 1987. This is perfectly acceptable as a business loan as it is under the $500,000 approval level of the Te Arawa Maori Trust Board, and was made to a demonstrably viable project. It is no coincidence that at this time ownership of Portal Lock Kit Set Homes passed to Whakaari Developments. It is a very good investment even as a NZ based venture at the price that was negotiated (don't be misled by the size of the loan). Don Brebner agreed to remain as Managing Director - his contribution to Maoridom. Not all of this loan has been drawn down. In fact there was no need to make a loan as the Te Arawa Trust Board, through it's wholly owned subsidiary Whakaari Developments Ltd, could have treated the complete amount as an equity investment with no loan repayments necessary.
Perfectly legitimate under the MANA rules.
From my knowledge of MANA Enterprises, Whakaari Developments then became potentially the biggest and most profitable of all MANA projects, with the potential to provide untold jobs in factories and construction gangs.
The Minister of Maori Affairs was briefed on this and other projects by the Te Arawa group on 17 October 1987. I suppose no one believed him even though his information was straight from the horses mouth. The Prime Minister ordered the Audit Office investigation and action was taken against Alec. The Federation of Maori Authorities was also "prevailed upon" to withdraw it's support. The delegation that did this included people from the Prime Minister's Department and Maori Affairs.
It is ironic that this magnificent MANA project has almost been bankrupted by our own people (Maori Affairs?). Some $29,000 private money has been injected into Whakaari to keep it afloat as it is losing $1800 each day that this investigation lingers on. I am told that the investigation will not be complete until mid to late February. My investigations conclude that Whakaari will not hold out that long.
Evasive action has been taken. Portal-lock has been sold to Jadixx International (Bob Wilson's friendly company) to protect the investment. The principals involved in the initiative are determined to carry on, and if necessary to fight the Government through the Courts. The deals are still being negotiated and are looking good. To date it has not been necessary to look for overseas loans (where did that $500 million allegation come from?) but the group has established a good credit rating with reputable overseas banks. If private and legal business activity cannot be undertaken without investigations, inquiries and persecution then perhaps the answer might be to go offshore.
Alec Wilson is "under the personal direction of Mr Workman" still. However he was re-elected to the Board of Te Arawa by a landslide despite the huge attack on him. It seems the people do count, at least in the Te Arawa elections. The word is that he stands a good chance of being Chairman of the Board. Somehow I can't see Alec lying down and taking all this.
Expect some action to start very soon. Word has it that individuals and companies are gearing up to lay huge claims on departments, politicians, and public servants. As Don Brebner has asked in the media "Who should be investigated?"
Bob Mahuta Speaks Out For Te Arawa
by our Special Reporter
Most Maori Authorities would support Te Arawa Trust Board's overseas initiatives, says Board of Maori Affairs member Bob Mahuta. In an interview earlier this month, Mr Mahuta said he endorsed the Te Arawa Board's business and cultural activities with other countries.
The Government was acting in a "neo-colonialist" fashion in trying to stop the board's initiatives, he said. "If trust boards are being expected to become more involved in this whole development aspect, there has to be some flexibility in it," he said.
"Is Government saying that Maoridom must not negotiate offshore, without Government acting as negotiator? Are they frightened of that?"
"I think it's probably the latter, that they don't want Maoridom to be negotiating directly offshore. They always want to be acting as both the economic and power broker, and that's fast coming to a close."
" The Government's actions against the Trust Board were neo-colonialist," he said. "The Trust Board's activities represented not just a threat to the Government, but a threat to the Pakeha monopoly on power," he believed.
Mr Mahuta said he imagined that most trust boards would support what Te Arawa had been doing. He said that if the Government's actions against the Te Arawa Board were meant to be a warning to others, "then the trust boards may as well get out of the whole game."
"They're trying to put shackles on the economic development of Maori people by trying to imply that."
"You've got far worse instances where Government funding has been mismanaged or misappropriated or abused in that sense. So what's new? And yet there have been cover-ups all along the way in those instances involving far greater sums of money." Mr Mahuta said: "I guess there's a lesson to be learnt from history that no group can oppress another group or keep them down economically indefinitely."
About the only thing any of us knows about Devolution is that we know nothing.
The Devolution Committee under the chairmanship of Bob Mahuta was dissolved late last year probably because the Government didn't agree with their ideas. From what is publicly available it would seem that the committee advocated devolving functions from other departments as well as Maori Affairs. Apparently that is not going to happen (much).
The Department then took over responsibility for devolution.
Judging from the way the Department has been acting towards some Tribal Authorities my guess is that the Department intends to devolve only as far as it's district offices. At least two District Directors are acting as though they own MANA and MACCESS already.
On the other hand a very influential member of the Board of Maori Affairs is pushing for the Tribal & Regional Authorities to be pushed aside and MANA and MACCESS handed over to Development Boards similar to the Land Advisory Boards. He has recommended that this happen for the 1988/89 financial year!
I suspect the Cabinet has an entirely different plan. Historically governments have never been happy to deal with Maoridom through the tribal structures. My bet would be that Government would prefer to deal with no more than a dozen regional boards with appointed board members, and would exercise tight control.
If the Tribal & Regional Authorities want to have a say you had better speak out, and soon.
First there was Wira Gardiner, then Ripeka Evans, then Tata Parata, Ross Himona, Eru Manuera and Brian Dickson. Next!
Nan Wehipeihana leaves to go to TVNZ on 5 February and that will be a big blow. Shelley Humphrey goes into hospital for a couple of weeks at the same time leaving Brian Dickson and the typiste Sheryl Korou on their own. Gerry Fouhy has been brought back on contract to MANA to help out.
The success story of December is that the MACCESS Unit managed to get $53 million for 1988/89. The thing to watch out for is whether the funding goes to Tribal & Regional Authorities or whether it is managed by District Offices or Development Boards or some other form of regional body.
Federation of Maori Authorities
One of our biggest problems is that the iwi are not united in dealings with Government. Consequently governments choose who they will listen to when the "opinion" of Maoridom is "needed" to confer legitimacy on decisions affecting Maoridom.
For a while the Tribal & Regional Authorities seemed to have some representation in Wellington during the heady days of MANA and MACCESS but there is no doubt today that the network is not represented. Those few supporters still in the system at Wellington seem to be increasingly ignored by the bureaucracy. As many of you have pointed out the Board of Maori Affairs is an appointed body not representative of the iwi. The Department has it's own structure and hierarchy to preserve.
After 148 years we seem to have come so close to having our iwi recognised in their own right when the MANA/Maori ACCESS/Matua Whangai programmes were implemented. I am almost certain that this achievement will be reversed come the devolution. The stated reasons will revolve around the supposed inability of Tribal & Regional Authorities to competently (and perhaps honestly) manage government programmes. The intrinsic reason as always is the fear of "tribalism".
There is no doubt in my mind that the Minister of Maori Affairs, given the freedom to act completely on behalf of Maoridom and the competent and committed staff to implement his decisions, would walk the same path he set out on after Hui Taumata 1984. There is no doubt in my mind that He Kawenata would still be the kaupapa. We seem to have lost a lot of ground.
For two reasons I believe all Tribal & Regional Authorities should join the Federation of Maori Authorities. Firstly it would become a truly representative umbrella controlled by it's member groups. As a private organisation it would be independent, it would not be responsible to Government and could not be influenced against it's will. FOMA would not be in the game of controlling, just representing. With the support of all Tribal & Regional Authorities it could not be ignored by any government or governmental body. I personally believe FOMA should not accept any government funding but steadfastly preserve it's independence.
Secondly the Minister of Maori Affairs, if his policies gained the support of FOMA, would be able to wield much more influence in Cabinet. It would no longer be a minor Ministry. At the moment any cabinet minister can find influential Maori individuals or groups to support almost any policy, and thereby claim to have the support of Maoridom. We all know that divide-and-rule strategy for it has been used for 148 years.
Tribal & Regional Authorities could form their own organisation but the Federation of Maori Authorities already exists. Let's give it some authority.
September 1986 the first fax was installed in the MANA office. Now they are everywhere. Did you know that the Minister has one, and the Secretary? You don't have to wait for the Post Office to get your mail there - you can land it on the Minister's or the Secretary's desk in seconds (almost).
The fax is creating a communications revolution in Maoridom. You can use your MANA or ACCESS administration funding to buy one - you can use the interest you made on your MANA and ACCESS term deposits to buy one. Use it to send in the monthly reports, or to send in answers to all those Questions in the House. Or to tell the Minister and the Department just what your views are. But most of all you can communicate swiftly with one another.
Don't delay - buy a fax [Editor's Note: these fax numbers are now outdated].
Minister of Maori Affairs 04-711765
Secretary for Maori Affairs 04-711839
Auckland District 09-784915
Ngati Awa Trust Board 076-84263
Ngai Tahu Maori Trust Board 03-54098
Tainui Maori Trust Board 07124-7837
Tamaki Maori Maori Development Authority 09-399123
Taranaki Maori Trust Board 062-88360
Te Arawa Maori Trust Board 073-477349
Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board 0746-82353
Chairman MANA Enterprises (Bert Mackie) 03-494326