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Māori half-billion-dollar mega trust buys popular Rotorua tourist attraction for whopping $15 million

A popular Rotorua tourist attraction has been largely taken over by a Māori mega trust for a whopping $15 million.

Tamaki Māori Village, which has been in business for three decades, has been bought by Tahara No 2 Trust, which both parties say could help grow the Māori economy.

Tamaki Tours founder Mike Tamaki sold most of the business to what is known as an Ahu Whenua trust.

BERL economist Ganesh Nana explained, "They're not related to Treaty settlements. They predate them quite considerably and some of them have grown to be very large indeed".

Tauhara No 2 Trust, worth $568 million, owns a geothermal power station near Taupo and has farming interests.

Tauhara No 2 Trust's Ngahi Bidois said, "A lot of people see the Māori economy as a sleeping giant, but for people like us, we've been away for a long time - we've just been operating where people don't see us".

Similar mega trusts are starting to rival powerful iwi like Ngāi Tahu and Tainui.

Around $2 billion is invested each year into the $50 billion dollar Māori economy, but the partners here say that indigenous businesses need to be more aggressively supporting each other to see real growth and cashflow.

"It's not just Māori, it's indigenous people around the world where, unfortunately, they don't see progressive benefits in investing in their own. They'd rather look and say, 'We can do that', and go into competition," Mr Tamaki said.

However, Mr Nana added, "There is a lot of Māori businesses - while not financially investing in other businesses - are definitely helping and assisting, even if it's just through the transmission of governance and management".

Mr Bidois said the trust is "not in this for one year, three years, five years - we're in this for 100 years".

Tauhara No 2 Trust has largely taken over Tamaki Māori Village, which both parties say could help grow the Māori economy.