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Ngai Tahu's iwi saver scheme starts

Ngai Tahu’s savings scheme, Whai Rawa (Building Wealth) gets formally kicked off today by Finance Minister Michael Cullen.

Friday, August 18th 2006, 6:39AM

by Rob Hosking

The scheme has been being put together over the past few years and is aimed at being both a savings scheme and a tool to distribute profits from the tribe’s businesses to its roughly 35,000 members.

Phase one allows savers to put a relatively small, regular amount into a conservative fund. The return is modest – the target is the 90 day rate.

The idea is to get people used to saving and build the habit, Whai Rawa Fund chairman Diana Crossan says.

"It’s an opportunity for people to save who have never saved before.”

The conservative approach is designed to ensures fees are not an issue and to reduce anxiety over capital loss.

The savings scheme is backed by an ongoing effort to boost financial literacy.

About 25% of those saving are setting up automatic payments to make the payments – the savings profile starts as low as $20 a fortnight and goes up from there.

Many of them are saving for their families – grandparents saving for their grandchildren’s not uncommon, she says.

The plan is to develop into more diversified, less conservative investments, in a couple of years.

The scheme is about to make a kick start offering – any savings made between October and December will be topped up at a rate of $4 to $1.

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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