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 1950's 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 subsequently involved fisheries and aquaculture assets valued at $71m. The reinvestment policy was continued and the asset base continued to grow. Today the commercial asset base is now in excess of $809m.
Ngāi Tahu is a committed intergenerational investor, driven by the vision and values of Ngāi Tahu Whānui.
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.