Tūwhareroa Settlement Trust loses $50 million

By Ripeka Timutimu

Calls have been made for a government inquiry into the $50 million loss by the Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust.  Ex-MP Georgina Beyer says the loss is a tragedy for the iwi and questions should be asked of those responsible, but the Minister of Māori Affairs isn't having a bar of it.

“I don't agree with that.  Financial matters need to stay in the hands of iwi, through the good and the bad,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

Back at work, the Minister of Māori Affairs won't be asking any of his Parliamentary colleagues to support an inquiry.

Minister Flavell says, “We mustn't forget that there have been Pākehā groups who have done much of the same.  South Canterbury Finance is one.  BNZ, Fay Richwhite, they're all the same.  They've wasted more money than Tūwharetoa.  I feel for Tūwharetoa and hopefully they go back to the people of Tūwharetoa.”

But the numbers don't look too flash for Tūwharetoa.

The report is critical of some investments approved by the trustees, including investment into Tukia Group, and the purchase of land at Mangamawhitiwhiti.

Ms Beyer says, "The accountability must come to the fore on this. You cannot just wipe your hands and say, oh we just made a few bad investments and move on."

Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust buildings were quiet this week, but Beyer says those doors of accountability need to be opened, and an inquiry by the Māori Affairs Select committee could be the key.

"It may shed some light, bring some people to account for the full truth, to be made transparent about what has occurred here," says Beyer.

The Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust would not appear on camera for an interview, but Te Kāea understands that upon the decision of the trustees, no legal action is to be taken against prior trustees for the loss.