During colonization of the ‘new world’ many indigenous people were marginalized. Settlers took the natives’ lands, resources and livelihoods from them, claiming the land as their own and creating new government bodies. The story of natives in America is familiar to us. Many tribes now have been given small ‘reservation’ lands. But the culture and language are rapidly disappearing.

In New Zealand, the Maori tribes experienced a similar chain of events. However, a tribe in Christchurch, the Ngai Tahu, finally made settlements with the government in 1998 for $144 million USD. They took a risk with their gain and invested this money. Ultimately they were thinking of the long term. They built real estate and tourist attractions as well as putting some money into stocks such as Ryman healthcare. The risk paid off and they currently have about a 25% return on their portfolio.

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I love this photo of one of the members of the tribal council, in a suit with tribal garb over it. The people in the tribe have really learned how to work within a Western system. But at the same time they are using their gains as a tool to retain their values. For example gambling is against their belief system.  The returns on these investments has given the tribe people a sense of financial security so that they feel no pressure to support casinos on their land. 

I don’t think that their methodology could be successfully applied to all tribal people left in such a situation. It surely took the right combination of people and leadership to achieve what they have and I applaud there success. But I think the story does touch, or show a portion of a greater story. There is an interaction of culture between the Global North and the Global South, between the wealthy and the poor. I think that we need to be aware of this exchange and see how having means is sometimes a privilege which allows us to more easily  retain culture and values.

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