28 Jun 2010

Report criticises Maori agribusiness trust

11:55 pm on 28 June 2010

A review of a $3 million project to boost exports by Maori agricultural businesses concludes there is no evidence of exports.

But the review of the Tekau Plus Maori Agribusiness Project, commissioned by Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development) recommends it be overhauled rather than scrapped.

A report on the review has found no evidence of anyone exporting anything as a result of the project, despite it being authorised to spend more than half its money before the ministry suspended it last November.

Set up in late 2007, the aim was to get get Maori agribusinesses exporting up to $10 million of export earnings within 10 years.

The report mentions businesses such as kiwifruit companies, organic dairy producers, honey, beekeeping, and aquaculture.

These companies were promised between $70,000 to $100,000, but the report says they exported very little. Where they did export, there is no evidence that the Tekau Plus payments played any role in that.

The review also found Tekau Plus was not governed properly, with its advisory board, its administrative arm and even two companies targeted for assistance being run by the same people.

It found the greatest benefit went to a subsidiary of the Federation of Maori Authorities that operated the scheme, rather than potential Maori exporters themselves.

Despite these faults the review did not recommend the scheme be abandoned, instead calling for an overhaul of its governance.