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Iwi interest in SOEs draws flak

Up to 20 percent of the four state-owned power companies could be owned by iwi once National begins the process of selling off part of its stake in SOEs.

Up to 20 percent of the four state-owned power companies could be owned by iwi once National begins the process of selling off part of its stake in SOEs. 

Iwi Chairs Forum member and Ngai Tahu chair Mark Solomon told Radio New Zealand today an alliance of tribes had been interested in buying shares for a few years, but any decision would depend on the sale process. 

National plans to sell up to 49 percent of its stake in Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy, as well as part of its shareholding in Air New Zealand. 

Prime Minister John Key has indicated the asset sales could begin late next year, saying National's 48 percent of the vote gives it a mandate to do so. Mighty River Power or Genesis Energy are tipped to be first to be sold off. 

Solomon said a partnership between iwi and government would mean earnings would stay in New Zealand and be re-invested.

Maori Party leader Tariana Turia has said iwi want to be major players in any government sale of assets, but New Zealand First leader Winston Peters accused the party of wanting to have a “bob each way” over the issue.

“If your policy opposes asset sales, you can’t suddenly say you will allow it if Maori can have a slice of the action. You can’t stand with one leg on each side of a fence because it gets very painful. Moreover, it will lead to oblivion for the Maori Party by 2014 if not sooner.

“Asset sales will not help Maori. It will lead to further impoverishment and lack of opportunity."