Nicki Douglas believes the Te Arawa Lakes Trust is destined to be a world leader in freshwater management, and it's now her role to help them achieve that.
Ms Douglas said the work which had been done over the past decade ensured the trust was well on its way to being a leader in its field, and continuing that progress would be a focus during her one year secondment to the trust as its environmental manager.
Adding to that drive are Ms Douglas' strong links with Te Arawa, links which ultimately saw her return from the Waikato to Rotorua for the job.
"It's great to come back to Rotorua, which I consider home, and work for my iwi," she said.
Ms Douglas, who is affiliated to Ngati Whakaue and Ngati Rangiwewehi, believes those iwi links give her an important edge.
"Having the opportunity to come back and make a difference for my people is special to me. It's great to do something to help future generations of Te Arawa."
Ms Douglas has spent the past 15 years working for the Department of Conservation in a variety of operational and strategic management roles, and she plans to bring the skills she has learnt to the trust.
She is grateful to the department for allowing her secondment.
Since starting with the trust two weeks ago, Ms Douglas said she had been focused on connecting with as many people as possible and getting to know the people she would be working with.
"The team here are focused on ensuring Te Arawa values are known and then provided for in decision making; my role is to ensure active participation by Te Arawa whanau, hapu and iwi in the lakes restoration programmes."
Ms Douglas said that might mean supporting hapu and getting them to the table or sourcing resources so they were able to undertake restoration of their lakes, wetlands and streams; improving the mauri of their lakes and people.
"Another focus is being a good partner alongside Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Rotorua Lakes Council to restore our lakes," she said
"This means engaging with Te Arawa and the wider community, sharing our views and values and creating opportunities for Te Arawatanga to be on display around our lakes. "
Ms Douglas will also work with the trust's commercial arm, supporting its current shift towards sustainability.
Trust chief executive Karen Vercoe said while it was Ms Douglas' knowledge around conservation and ability to build strong relationships that were needed for this role, she also believed her connection with, and deep passion for the environment gave her an edge.
The trust was formed following the Treaty settlement to manage the settlement package.
The trust is responsible for the sustainable and responsible oversight and management of Te Arawa's settlement assets including the region's 14 lakes and Te Tauapapa o nga wai o Te Arawa (the Te Arawa Cultural Values Framework).
Its wholly owned entity Te Arawa Management is to optimise commercial resources, both those secured under and as part of the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement, and the commercial assets of the former Te Arawa Maori Trust Board.