The almost $90 million Whai Rawa scheme has switched to a socially responsible investment (SRI) model as part of a major revamp of the Ngāi Tahu-owned operation that includes a change of administrator and looming fund choice.
Under the scheme upgrade due to kick off on September 26, Whai Rawa will shift its more than 27,000 members to the SRI conservative fund run by Mercer, which also picked up the administration role from incumbent, Link.
Whai Rawa previously invested in a Mercer conservative fund without the SRI overlay.
“The change also includes an active investment decision to allocate funds to assets which are likely to have a positive environmental impact, as well as delivering on financial objectives, such as windfarms and timber,” an explanatory note says.
Fund fees will remain at 0.57 per cent despite the SRI enhancements.
As of next February, Whai Rawa will offer members investment choice with the launch of two new Mercer-run SRI funds covering balanced and growth risk profiles.
“Leading up to February 2020 we will provide more details on Investor Choice and how to work out which fund might be right for you,” the scheme note says.
Following the shift to the Mercer admin service, the Whai Rawa scheme will also step up to daily unit pricing from the previous clunky system that distributed fund returns to members every quarter.
The Whai Rawa modernisation program was first flagged in a 2017 proposal that originally mooted a KiwiSaver option for the Ngāi Tahu group.
However, the Whai Rawa board dropped the KiwiSaver plan in June last year after completing a review.
Launched in 2006, Whai Rawa is the only dedicated Māori-owned licensed managed investment scheme (MIS) under the Financial Markets Conduct Act.
The scheme, headed by David Tikao, offers its members matched contributions as well as the ability to withdraw funds for education, first home purchase, or retirement (post age 55) purposes.
While Whai Rawa has the most-developed iwi savings vehicle, a number of other Māori-focused investment offerings have recently emerged including the just-launched New Plymouth-based Ka Uruora ‘financial wellbeing’ program and the wholesale Australasian equities Tahito fund.
Ka Uruora has badged two SuperLife savings products – one a KiwiSaver and another unlocked scheme dubbed WhānauSaver – for the Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa and Te Kāhui o Taranaki iwis.
The Tahito fund, which applies a Māori-values screen over Australasian shares, is a joint venture between JMI Wealth and an entity founded by Temuera Hall and Chris Winitana