7 Oct 2014

Maori Trustee turnaround slow process

7:23 am on 7 October 2014

Anybody expecting a quick turnaround in the performance of Te Tumu Paeroa, the Maori Trustee, after Jamie Tuuta was appointed chief executive three years ago would be disappointed.

The organisation administers about 2250 leases over nearly 100,000 hectares of land on behalf of just under 20 percent of the Maori population.

It reported a $10.9 million annual profit a few months after Mr Tuuta joined it. The annual report shows that for the year ended March profit had sunk to $2.57 million.

Beneath the latest figures is a complex story of cleaning out legacy investments - most notably the 30 percent stake in the Millennium and Copthorne Hotels - and new investments which are yet to pay off.

The trustee wrote a further almost $6.4 million off the hotels in the latest year, taking total losses to more than $50 million in the near 23 years of ownership.

The trustee is awaiting Overseas Investment Office approval to sell the hotels, known as Quantum.

It still has another couple of legacy assets to deal with, including dairy processor Miraka and the Putake business, both of which will probably be sold.

Mr Tuuta said progress is slow but he is not frustrated and a number of the investments made in the past year should pay off in future.

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