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Maori director of Mighty River Power resigns

Thursday 11th October 2012

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MightyRiverPower has lost one of two Maori directors in what appears to be fall-out from opposition led by the Waikato-Tainui iwi to the government's plans to partially privatise state-owned power companies.

The resignation from the MRP board of the chief executive of Waikato-Tainui Te Kauhanganui Inc, Parekawhia McLean, was announced this morning.

WTTKI is the tribal authority of Waikato-Tainui, ultimately directed by the 199-member Tainui tribal Parliament.

MRP's statement to the NZX on the departure does not raise issues of potential conflicts of interest but the sale of a minority stake in state-owned Mighty River Power is held up by Maori claims to water.

McLean believed her resignation was "in the best interests of both Mighty River Power and Waikato-Tainui," the company said.

The decision was personal and McLean had tendered her resignation.

She was an independent director of the state-owned power company, which operates nine hydro power stations on the Waikato River, and has growing geothermal production in the central North Island.

On the Waikato, its iwi dealings are with Tainui, whose king, Tuheitia, called a national hui to press the government on the Waitangi Tribunal recommendation that iwi be offered a "shares-plus" deal to cover off Treaty of Waitangi claims before MRP's partial privatisation.

Its iwi relationships for geothermal developments are generally with hapu of Ngati Tuwharetoa and are commercially structured, whereas the Waikato River is governed jointly by the Crown and the iwi under its Treaty settlement.

The national hui followed the government's decision last month to postpone the first of three planned share floats from the last quarter of this year and target the second quarter of 2013, to give time for the politically charged issue to be resolved.

"We thank Parekawhia for her time on the Board and wish her every success in the future," MRP chairwoman Joan Withers said.

Maori claims to water have created uncertainty about both the sale of state-owned electricity companies and the future cost of water.

The Crown and Waikato-Tainui signed a deed of settlement in August 2008, providing a $210 million clean-up fund and co-governance over the rWaikato River.

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