Whai Rawa, the funds management arm of South Island iwi Ngāi Tahu, has put its KiwiSaver ambitions on ice following an almost six-month consultation.
The now $72 million Ngāi Tahu savings scheme attracted about a dozen replies after calling for expressions of interest (EOI) last November from firms able to offer investment choice and a ‘white label’ KiwiSaver option.
In a statement, the Whai Rawa board said the group had “completed the Expression of Interest (EOI) process in considering Investment Choice and a possible KiwiSaver option for its 25,000 members”.
“At this stage the KiwiSaver aspect will not be progressed. However, this may be revisited in the future,” the release says.
But investment choice was still on the table for Whai Rawa with a short-list of EOI candidates due to receive a Request for Proposal (RFP)
“The RFP will be issued shortly,” Whai Rawa says.
Currently, Whai Rawa invests in a single conservative portfolio managed by Mercer.
The Whai Rawa savings scheme, established 12 years ago, offers iwi members – which number in total almost 60,000 – matched contributions as well as the ability to withdraw funds for education, first home purchase, or retirement purposes.
Last year, David Tikao, Whai Rawa group executive director, said regardless of the KiwiSaver decision the fund was due for an update.
As well as introducing member investment choice, any new provider would likely have to reorganise the Whai Rawa fund’s back-end processes. The group operates individual member accounts that link to the underlying Whai Rawa unit trust.
In the EOI letter last year, Whai Rawa said: “Currently the fund pricing is by way of ‘quarterly interest rate setting’ and is not unitised. This fund unitisation will need to be addressed in the near future.”
The Whai Rawa fund has also recently refreshed its board in the wake of a couple of departures late in 2017. Notably, Whai Rawa chair, Kristen Kohere-Soutar, left after being appointed as Mercer NZ director last August while well-known financial adviser, Martin Hawes, resigned a month later – partly to counter potential conflict of interest relating to his advisory role at the Forsyth Barr-owned KiwiSaver scheme, Summer.
In March this year, Christchurch-based Claire Murray and Anthony Bow of Auckland joined the Whai Rawa fund board followed by another Aucklander, Liam Stoneley, in May.
Whai Rawa is the only iwi-based organisation operating under the Financial Markets Conduct Act as a licensed managed investment scheme.