Three local iwi are preparing for the settlement of their Treaty claims - expected in February - by setting up a new trust on Wednesday.
Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki launch their Social and Cultural Trust in Raetihi in readiness for the post-settlement era.
The Uenuku Charitable Trust, which is negotiating the Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown, is establishing the new trust - the first of three subsidiary trusts - to help progress the development of the three tribes and their hapū (sub-tribes).
Local dignitaries, community and business leaders and Crown officials are expected at Wednesday's launch at the Theatre Royal in Raetihi, along with representatives of neighbouring iwi, including Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Hāua and other iwi of the Whanganui River and the Ruapehu district.
The settlement is at the agreement in principle stage with iwi representatives developing a proposed redress package with the Crown, and Steve Hirini, project manager for the Uenuku Charitable Trust, commented: "We have a pretty good feel for what people want, and it's up to us as representatives to negotiate something that best reflects the aspirations of the people.
"It's an exciting stage."
While it is possible that the change in government may slow the process slightly as new ministers get up to speed, Mr Hirini said the timeline had not been officially revised and settlement was hoped for February 2018.
"The timing is good now to try a collaborative approach involving the wider community, instead of individual groups all acting alone," he said, adding that there was a need to attract people with the right skillsets to develop projects for the post-settlement era.
UCT chairman Aiden Gilbert said they didn't have to wait for the Treaty settlement to start "chipping away at all there is to be done".
He said the new Social and Cultural Trust would "allow our people to build a solid foundation for the work that lies ahead".
Acknowledging the partnership between Maori and the Crown "coming together for the common good of the whānau, hapū and iwi of the district", Mr Gilbert said the trust would be "a critical platform or incubator for growing alliances and partnerships, and generating strategies that will help drive the social and cultural aspirations of Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki".
"At the centre of this launch is a value that strikes to the heart of Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki - that is the care and respect of our cultural repositories, the caretakers of our marae, the leaders of our whānau and the teachers of our mokopuna."
"This is a milestone initiative that all of us can be proud of and, as a tribal authority, we are excited about the changes this new entity has the potential to make for our people."
The launch of the new trust will be followed by a public screening of an historic film from the archives of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision, featuring many whānau of the Whanganui River and the Waimarino. The public screening will take place at the Theatre Royal, Seddon Street, Raetihi at 6.30pm Wednesday evening.