Ngāi Tahu has a proud history of commerce and trade reaching back hundreds of years. Prior to colonisation Ngāi Tahu underpinned the inter-tribal pounamu trade and later embraced international commerce through strong involvement in New Zealand’s early whaling and agricultural industries.
Through regaining access to significant capital Ngāi Tahu has once again embraced its heritage of commerce in new areas including property, seafood and tourism.
Ngāi Tahu has been engaged in modern day commercial activities, particularly since the late 1950s when the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board had income of about $20,000 per year with which to balance its investment and distribution aspirations. Even in those early days the decision-makers recognised the need to reinvest to grow the pūtea and chose to put in place an aggressive reinvestment policy – reinvesting about two thirds of the income while maintaining a tightly focused distribution policy aimed at providing support to tribal members through the likes of education grants and scholarships.
In 1998, as a result of the Ngāi Tahu Claim Settlement Act, Ngāi Tahu received a settlement sum of $170m. It also received subsequent sums from fisheries, acquaculture and relativity settlements valued at $152m. Balanced reinvestment and consistent distribution followed the receipt of these funds. As a result, the tribal asset base stands at $1.2b and over $320m has been distributed to support tribal programmes.
Our commercial operations are the financial engine to support our intergenerational tribal journey, and are also returning the iwi to being
the backbone of the South Island economy. Annually, we contribute over $200m to the South Island economy through job creation, purchasing and spending our profits locally.