COMMENT:

This past month has been quite busy for our team at the Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated (NKII) office.

There are 12 staff members in our office and we all have our own set of skills that helps us hum well together.

Last month our board met to go over the 25-year vision and knuckle in on priorities for the next financial year.

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In May our operations team will receive instruction through our chief executive to align our strategic objectives and annual plans in accordance with the board's strategic vision. This will bring about change.

Our team has been involved with so many activities throughout this month that the event team "high-five" each other after events and say "next". We have become a very effective team.

We keep abreast of activities, events and meetings that provide the action behind our NKII Board decisions. As busy and time consuming as it can become, we all love our jobs and it's rewarding in so many ways to be working for our own people. Have we made changes during our time? We sure have.

Over the past 18 years in my employment at NKII, I have seen so much change. In 2001 a hīkoi to all marae in Kahungunu took place where whānau had the opportunity to feed into the 25=year vision of the iwi.

At completion, a two page strategic plan was formed and sent to all marae and posted all over our website. It became the base for all work we do in our office.

If I were to stand still and replay the past 18 years of our iwi life into a flash video, it would be quite amazing to review the things that have taken place, the effective changes made, the people who contributed – many of whom have now passed on.

It would be quite beautiful. My longtime work colleague Danielle Keil and I often reflect on the past and talk about all the changes that have taken place.

We counted eight board members who have passed away during our time in the iwi, including my beautiful Aunty Christine Teariki, who dedicated a big chunk of her life to the iwi. Has change occurred over the years? It sure has.

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We know at the moment that three of our current board members, kaumātua Haami Hilton, Hayden Hape for Tamaki Nui-a rua, and George Reti for Te Whanganui a-Orotu will remain on the board.

Wairarapa Board member Melissa Ihaka is new and comes onto the NKII Board unopposed. The other six positions have the potential to change.

Current board members Alice Wairau from Wairoa, JB Smith from Tamatea, Northern Taurahere representative Owen Purcell, Mike Paku for Heretaunga and the incumbent chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana have put forward their names again to maintain their seats on the board.

The Southern Taurahere candidates are brand new. So yes, there will be change, no matter what the declared results will be tomorrow evening at the Special General Meeting.

People say it's time for a change and change is definitely coming no matter who gets in.
This election will be the fifth one that I have administered.

In 2006 we had a constitutional change as part of our fisheries settlement that changed our board from 20 to 10 members. At that same time strategic plans were being written for housing, health, education, environment, te reo, violence-free, water, tobacco-free, you name it, a strategy was being designed for it. In 2009 we sold up our Orchard Rd office and moved to Lowe House which was bought by Taikura Rudolf Steiner, our current landlord.

Our chief executive at the time introduced a new structure with directorates for a Taiao, Te Ara Toiora, Te Reo, Tikanga and Matauranga, and support services.

This is the current structure in which we work. Whilst the changes took place, the board always maintained their strategic view and their role has always been to lead the vision of the iwi.

This month we hosted two Inspirational Leadership Seminars to encourage Māori leadership on community, local and regional government and district health boards.

We've done this for the past three local elections and slowly our iwi members are finding strength and courage to stand in our communities.

We launched the opening of our new Takitumu Seafoods company which has brought about huge change for us as an organisation and for the community.

We hosted a national IwiBuild Summit which saw individuals and groups go away excited about new housing opportunities for land owners.

We supported the National Secondary Schools Ki O Rahi Championships and created an awesome Kahungunu atmosphere and gifted a "Spirit of Ki O Rahi" taonga to the organisers for their team of choice.

We supported Kohupatiki Marae in hosting the ANZAC 28th Māori Battalion D Company memorial by supplying kai, designing and printing programmes. Our iwi scholarships are open and over 80 tertiary students have applied for support. And we hosted our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Waipatu Marae and gave her a Kahungunu experience and even sent her off with a basket of vegetables gifted from Aunty's Garden.

We have registered more than 350 new iwi members this month as part of our iwi election taking place. This is a lot of work to keep abreast of, but it's business as usual at the iwi office. Every day brings about change.

Tomorrow afternoon at noon, the Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated elections will close. For the past month, nerves for all candidates facing election were intense, which is very healthy during an election.

The future of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated will be determined by the leadership of the board. The usual pattern for new board members is a natural suction and withdrawal for the first 12 months where new board members find their feet as they learn the ropes of a trustee in governance roles and let go of taiwhenua/rohe issues and carry a leadership role as an iwi governance board member.

We definitely need robust, strong, vibrant leaders who will continue to lead. No matter what, change is coming.

Any good leadership involves good communication, robust discussions, concentrated effort and for individual board members there's an expectation that you will read up on all of the research, historical summarised reports and information given you so you can make robust decisions.

There really is no time for a suction period. Like a long distance relay, board members really only have time to grab the baton and keep the momentum and smartly move together with one accord.

Many candidates have talked about change. The change is that we need to pull our socks up and if we are in positions to lead, then lead.

The change need only be subtle but the effects are huge. I hope that whatever happens tomorrow with the declared results, that we will all continue to move forward remembering the kaupapa of our organisation which has always been, "To enhance the mana and wellbeing of Ngāti Kahungunu".