Recently the media has highlighted a situation where an iwi settlement trust sold part of its settlement land for a property development. This is not necessarily an issue, but in this particular case controversy arose from the sale because of a perceived conflict of interest.  It was alleged that one Trust Board member had multiple key decision-making roles within the settlement trust. 

Examples such as this highlight the dangers of individuals wearing multiple decision-making “hats” within a single organisation.   Settlement Trust Boards must endeavour to represent all voices and interests in post-settlement governance.  This may not happen if boundaries are not drawn between governance, management and other roles within an organisation.

This includes having clear processes to ensure that conflicts of interest (both real and potential) are identified and appropriate steps are taken.

Peter Johnston
Māori Issues Lawyer