15 Dec 2014

Govt told to step in to find shareholders

8:07 pm on 15 December 2014

A lawyer is calling for the Government to fund efforts to track down tangata whenua who are unaware they are entitled to millions of dollars in unpaid dividends.

The Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation recently declared it had more than $1.6 million in unclaimed dividends.

The Maori Trustee now says it administers 59,000 accounts with unclaimed dividends worth about $5 million.

The Ngai Tahu Maori Law Centre's senior solicitor, Desiree Williams, said more than a quarter of land trust and incorporation shareholders in its records - are deceased.

She said either the Justice or Maori Development ministries should fund the Maori Land Court to find their ancestors.

Ms Williams said a one-off project could be established where court members use sources like the White Pages, the electoral roll, or even Facebook to find people.

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