Centuries ago, Ngāi Tahu moved southward from Te Ika a Māui (the North Island) to forge a new life and explore new opportunities in Te Waipounamu (the South Island). They faced a vastly and much harsher landscape than they had encountered before and to survive in this environment new practices had to be adopted and evolved.
Seasons guided when and where resources could be accessed; tītī (mutton-bird), kererū, and weka from the forests, islands and plains; from the rivers whitebait, tuna (eel), and pounamu (greenstone); and from the seas kōura (crayfish), pāua, and tio (oysters) to name a few. It was important to have many types of resources coming from an array of sources at different times of the year because this ensured a consistent supply of food for the people.
Like our tīpuna (ancestors), we continue to explore new investment opportunities through Ngāi Tahu Capital – the tribe’s investment arm. And, while property, seafood, tourism and farming are Ngāi Tahu Holding’s core operations, having access to a more diverse set of resources helps to protect and grow tribal wealth for future generations.
As part of this kaupapa, Ngāi Tahu Holdings has chosen to partner in the Responsible Investment Fund, started by Pathfinder Asset Management. Pathfinder, a boutique fund manager based in Auckland, launched the fund in 2017 with Ngāi Tahu Holdings as the cornerstone investor.
Ngāi Tahu Holding’s investment sends a clear signal that Ngāi Tahu believes in wise and responsible investment that will support current and future generations. “We have a higher expectation from our owners,” says Ngāi Tahu Holdings chief executive Mike Sang. “Ultimately it’s about meeting their expectations while ensuring that any investment is a good fit and will bring a good return. This is about applying Ngāi Tahu values to investment and it is good business.”
Responsible investment started in the 1960s with investors questioning if investing into the tobacco industry or the South African apartheid was a good business decision. Today, responsible investment is about avoiding companies that harm individuals, society or the planet, and supporting companies that are ethical and adopt sound long-term practices.
Pathfinder’s fund uses research firm Sustainalytics to support its three tier approach to responsible investment, which means they considers environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in investment decisions.
These (ESG) factors may include the way a company approaches climate change or looks after resources, including water, for example. A company's approach to governance will mean a focus on executive pay, and the structure and diversity of a board, among other factors. It is about doing the right thing while ensuring a decent return on that investment, says Pathfinder chief executive John Berry.
While Pathfinder’s responsible fund avoids investing into companies in adult entertainment, controversial weapons, tobacco, and gambling to name a few, it also takes a long-term view of an industry or sector to determine if it’s a good investment.
“A key for us is the way we approach investment and the way Ngāi Tahu takes an intergenerational approach,” says John Berry. ”If you are investing over a longer period, you tend to view risk differently. Having Ngāi Tahu as a cornerstone investor is a really good alignment for us.”
The investment is about doing things tika, it also allows Ngāi Tahu Holdings to ethically manage the investment portfolio, ensure they have spread risk and have readily available funds to invest in new growth opportunities.
“A large part of the tribe’s focus for this generation, and for the next is to keep moving forward," says Mike Sang. "If we are sitting still, then we are falling behind. Evolution applies to everything, including how the tribe applies Ngāi Tahu values to investment.”