Philanthropists’s control claims slammed
One of the country’s most prominent philanthropists has been labelled a racist after threatening to pull the plug on $1million of funding to the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust saying Maori are trying to take over.
Economist Gareth Morgan said successful iwi attempts to take greater control of the project were ‘‘ a case of blatant self-serving opportunism’’.
He is calling for the flagship 3400-hectare ecological island to be given national park status to protect it gamesmanship.
Multimillionaire Dr Morgan said iwi were ‘‘ seizing and capitalising’’ on the efforts of the community’s, landowners and private funders.
‘‘ My concern is their contribution to work and funding has been zilch. If they had been at all honest they would have made this move before, not after, the fence was erected.’’ He said few, if any, private funders ‘‘will be willing to pour money down the throats of
political the wide-mouth frogs of indigenous imperialism’’.
But Dr Morgan’s claims have been slammed by trust chairman Doug Arcus, iwi and the Waipa District Council.
They said Dr Morgan was ‘‘illinformed’’ and funders they had spoken to were supportive of the new governance structure.
Under the new structure Mana Whenua will provide three of the six trustees with the remainder drawn from landowners and community representatives and the board having the option to co-opt another two trustees.
Iwi will be able to appoint a cochairman.
Two trust members Fiona Judd and Peter Holmes were removed last month when they did not agree with the new structure, which needed 100 per cent support to be adopted.
Dr Morgan gave the trust a $1m interest-free loan and said he had been considering writing the loan off before learning of the iwi demands to have more control.
Mr Arcus, a Hamilton lawyer, said Dr Morgan’s comments overlooked key facts, including Maori owning the largest amount of land locked up behind the fence, and that iwi were legally required to be involved in relocation of species.
Ngati Koroki Kahukura representative and Maungatautari trustee Ted Tauroa said iwi ‘‘did not want to get embroiled in a racial war’’ and noted Maori had contributed a lot of land toward the project.