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Restoring economic independence

More than a century later, Sir Robert Mahuta saw the Waikato-Tainui treaty settlement as a way of restoring economic independence.

Returned land included ‘blue-chip’ properties that turned Waikato into one of the region’s largest landlords.

The Hopuhopu and Te Rapa properties funded the first dividend of $2,000 paid to each of the Waikato beneficiary marae that signed the Heads of Agreement. 

The Tainui Maaori Trust Board also announced its intention to double land holdings every generation until it regained a comparable amount of land to that which had been confiscated. 

But poor investment decisions landed the tribe in financial trouble in 1999.  The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HBSC) threatened foreclosure when the tribe defaulted on a $14.3 million loan due to failing Australian property developments.

The issue also split the tribe’s leadership, pitting Sir Robert and his supporters against Kingi Porima who chaired the council, Te Tekaumaarua.

Porima was eventually elected to negotiate a way out with HSBC. The Australian holdings and other high-risk assets were sold off, productive properties were retained, investment was diversified and expenditure was reduced.

Tainui Group Holdings (TGH) took over the management and growth of the tribe’s commercial assets, worth $166m in 2003.

Today those assets have increased to $1 billion. 

This includes The Base at Te Rapa, the Novotel Tainui in Hamilton and at Auckland International Airport, and the Ibis Tainui Hamilton.

The Base at Te Rapa was built on land returned as a pre cursor to the 1995 Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Settlement.