Skip to main content

Who We Are


Ngāi Tahu Property is a leading New Zealand property development and investment company owned by Te Waipounamu (South Island) iwi, Ngāi Tahu. Our current assets are valued at more than $755 million.

The company is one of the investment pillars of Ngāi Tahu Holdings Corporation, whose mission is to create wealth for Ngāi Tahu Whānui (families).

Ngāi Tahu Property is a commercial enterprise with values that are shaped and defined by its owners - the people of Ngāi Tahu. Inter-generational investment, commitment, sustainability and long-term vision underpin the acumen to identify and capitalise on opportunities. This approach to business is the hallmark of Ngāi Tahu Property.

The company was incorporated in 1994, but its story began more than 150 years earlier in 1840.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Te Tiriti o Waitangi-The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document, which was first signed on 6 February, 1840. Te Tiriti is an agreement, with versions in Māori and English, between the British Crown and around 540 Māori Rangatira (chiefs).

Te Tiriti was signed in Te Waipounamu-South Island in 1840 at four different locations, three of which were within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā-territory. As a result of the signings at Akaroa, Ruapuke Island and Ōtākou, Ngāi Tahu became a party to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It was a treaty of cession transferring Ngāi Tahu land to the crown.

By 1849, when the Crown began defaulting on the terms of a series of 10 major land purchases dating from 1844, earlier suspicions of the Crown’s good faith by some Ngāi Tahu chiefs were confirmed and the Ngāi Tahu claim ‘Te Kerēme’ was born.

Waitangi Tribunal Claim

In the 20 years from 1844, Ngāi Tahu signed formal land sale contracts with the Crown for some 34.5 million acres, approximately 80% of Te Waipounamu. The Crown failed to honour its part of those contracts when it did not allocate one-tenth of the land to the iwi as agreed. It also refused to pay a fair price for the land.

Robbed of the opportunity to participate in the land-based economy alongside the settlers, Ngāi Tahu became an impoverished and virtually landless tribe.

Independent analysis by CS First Boston valued the economic losses to Ngāi Tahu as a direct impact of the Crown’s land purchases at more than $20 billion.

In 1986, H. Rakiihia Tau filed Te Kerēme with the Waitangi Tribunal. Negotiations between the Crown and Ngāi Tahu on the claims began in 1991 but it took until 1998 for Ngāi Tahu to settle its Waitangi Tribunal Claim with the Crown.

Economic redress to Ngāi Tahu comprised a cash payment of $170 million along with mechanisms that give Ngāi Tahu the right and opportunity to buy certain Crown assets (the Deferred Selection Process and the Right of First Refusal).

Ngāi Tahu Property

Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – For us, and our children after us.

This is an old Ngāi Tahu whakataukī or proverb which dates back to the 1800s. It has been the guiding mission statement for Ngāi Tahu for the past two decades and guides the Investment Policy Framework.

The first Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust board took an annual distribution from the Crown of approximately $20,000 per annum and invested 66 percent. The rest was distributed through education grants and scholarships. This aggressive re-investment policy took the asset base from approximately $3.2 million in the 1980s to nearly $33 million at the time of settlement.

Those Board members also led the consultation process which shaped the Charter of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu which is:

  • To nurture, shelter and to serve our people
  • To protect and grow the pūtea (wealth)
  • To be accountable
  • To manage the assets separately from the bodies that spend and distribute the income
  • To protect the rights of those entitled to benefit by whakapapa (genealogy).

Ngāi Tahu Property Limited was incorporated in 1994 in anticipation of the opportunity to leverage and grow the Crown Settlement. Using borrowings, the company made some small initial purchases from the Government’s land bank and set up the platform for what was to become the highly effective property investment, management and development company we see today.

The initial purchases made by Ngāi Tahu Property using some of the $170 million Waitangi Tribunal Settlement included three High Country Stations, Courts and Police Stations (long-term Crown tenants) throughout Te Waipounamu and Crown forestry land assets.

The Settlement funds were supported by borrowings of $80 million to procure the inaugural parcels of land from the Crown for the company. These purchases established the basis of Ngāi Tahu Property’s investment and future Ngāi Tahu Farming portfolio.


Partnerships form a central strand to Ngāi Tahu Property’s culture and growth strategy.  As an iwi-owned organisation, Ngāi Tahu Property understands its role as a “family business” where partnerships support and enhance opportunities.

The company has worked closely with the New Zealand Government on a number of significant purchases and has enjoyed long-standing tenancies from various Government departments and agencies.

The joint venture between Ngāi Tahu Property and the Christchurch City Council represents a successful public-private partnership. The company also enjoys a long-term strategic alliance with Lincoln University in the development of Te Whāriki, a residential subdivision located in Lincoln, Selwyn.

The company leverages these partnerships to develop and deliver opportunities and to maximise the value of those partnerships for all parties.

We value strong, deep relationships with a wide range of organisations, businesses and individuals that deliver long-term value. This commitment to symbiotic partnerships grows the strength of our organisation and creates mutual opportunities for the future. Effective partnerships are helping to shape the course of our future.

The trust, mutual reliance on expertise and long-term nature of successful partnerships is a hallmark of the way Ngāi Tahu Property operates so successfully in a wide range of markets and sectors.

Investment Philosophy

Ngāi Tahu Property has a relatively simple investment philosophy, which is: to acquire the best land and land-based resources and convert to the highest yield and best use.

Once the conversion value has been secured, Ngāi Tahu Property assesses whether the risk:return ratio warrants retention in the portfolio.

The difference between Ngāi Tahu Property and others in the sector is that we exist to maximise our return on investment with a cultural umbrella that informs and shapes behaviours, decisions and outcomes.

Ngāi Tahu tribal aspirations reach far beyond commercial ambitions, resulting in mutually beneficial outcomes for our partners and the wider community.

The reward for Ngāi Tahu Property is seeing the results of our commercial success, funding programmes which benefit the health and well-being of all Ngāi Tahu families and communities. This ‘reason for being’ helps fuel our energy, passion and desire to achieve.

Contribution to the people of Ngāi Tahu

Ngāi Tahu has a wider commercial strategy focused on building economic strength and tribal wealth, which pays a sustainable tribal dividend. This economic strength helps create the relevant resources which enables the tribe to deliver on Rūnanga (marae communities), Whānui (families) and other goals.

In the 2015/16 year, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu paid $30 million in tribal, Rūnanga and Whānui distributions.

The Future

We drive profit but are purpose driven and live by the values handed to us by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Through excellence in sustainable land use, an inter-generational approach to investment, and a commitment to developing environmentally sensitive new buildings and communities, we ensure that we leave a treasured bequest for future generations of Ngāi Tahu.

Ngāi Tahu Property has the expertise and long-term vision which allows it to expand on and seek out opportunities and challenges which other organisations could find overwhelming.