Hūhana Lyndon (Ngāti Hine, Ngātiwai, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi) has been named as the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the Ngātiwai Trust Board.
The Trust Board has 14 marae under its mandate, stretching from Whangaruru in the North to Aotea in the South.
Currently, the mother of three is the CEO of the Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust, a position she has held since late 2018. Despite being the new CEO, Lyndon admits she has a history with the Ngātiwai Trust Board, saying she previously took issue with what she called a "top-down attitude".
"It was the lack of hapū, whānau, kainga, and claimant voice. It was the way in which the board did their business," said Lyndon.
To understand more about Lyndon and her aspirations in the role, The Advocate, spoke exclusively with the 42-year-old about why she wanted to apply for the job and her long-term vision for the Ngātiwai Trust Board.
How are you feeling about your appointment?
I'm really humbled by the opportunity to work for my mother's people and to put my shoulder to the wheel to help out where the iwi wants to go and their next steps. This is something that my mother and my grandmother are very pleased about, so I'm really grateful.
What made you want to take on this role?
I was asked by my elders to put my name in. I had seen it being advertised but I wasn't sure what level of support there might be if I was successful. When I received calls from elders and after being told to hurry up, I thought I'd give it a go. Knowing that I've grown professionally, I thought I would have something to contribute and that I could help with the waka of Ngātiwai. I have worked in executive leadership roles in the North for a while now and had always thought I'd end up in iwi but wasn't sure how or where. It was just a natural progression.
What do you bring to the table?
In terms of iwi leadership, we do need cultural leadership. I'm confident culturally in terms of who I am as Ngātiwai and with our reo and tikanga. I've got well-developed leadership and management skills, and even within the commercial space, working with Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust has helped grow me commercially. That's a new string to my bow and I'm really grateful for that.
What's your vision for the Ngātiwai Trust Board?
They've been working solidly over the last 12 months as a board reconsolidating themselves and reviewing where they're at. They came out really strong to our people under a kaupapa called Te Anga Mua o Ngātiwai. It's setting a new strategy for the iwi and I was really excited by what I heard, the strength of the board's leadership, and also the way they listened. I started to think this could be a new opportunity for the iwi.
I want to think about Ngātiwai internally, so strong Ngātiwai whānau, hapū, and iwi. Then I want to think about Ngātiwai externally, so a strong and healthy relationship with our neighbouring hapū and iwi as well. Through listening, we'll then be looking to resource the execution of the goals and aspirations of our people. I always keep thinking about being happy, healthy and heard.
What difficulties do you expect to encounter in the role?
I think the diversity within Ngātiwai, because the needs of the North are different to the needs of the South and of the Central populations. We are doing a lot of work around overlapping interests, we've got marine and coastal area claims, issues around the Ngātiwai mandate and those types of things.
What are your immediate goals for the Ngātiwai Trust Board?
I'm thinking about Te Anga Mua o Ngātiwai. They've started the listening journey, so I want to review what that looks like and then hit the road, take the feedback we receive and then ask ourselves if we're on the right track. I think we need to listen more to our people. I hope to have a working plan adopted by early 2022 that will help us to achieve our goals.
We also need to have a look under the hood. What does the board look like? What's the current structure? Are we fit for purpose? The goals and aspirations I've heard from sitting in on some meetings seem quite clear. It's things like rangatiratanga, environmental issues, and wellbeing. We need to look at what skills and staff are required to help the board supercharge a hub-and-spoke type model. We need to look at how we can train people to be self-determining within the hapū and the kainga. I'm very mindful of hapū rangatiratanga. I'm very mindful of the marae-based structure the board currently operates within and am seeking to empower those on the ground as much as possible.
How do you ensure everyone feels heard and how do you plan on dealing with differences in opinion?
Depending on what the issue is, often you can look to navigate the thinking and to really understand what the core concern is. If it is internal, then you have to park it as internal and they need to deal with it and then come back and say "actually, this is our united issue". I try to take more a faciliatory approach. By being a listening leader, you can then provide feedback to them and ask "have I heard you right and what are the solutions you seek?". I will then look to negotiate what solutions could be because often they won't be within a governance board or an iwi group. The solution could be within the kainga or it could be the board's role to help activate the solution.
What do you hope Ngātiwai looks like in 200 years?
I want our people to be strong in who they are and for it to be clear as to who they are and where they fit. I also want to have a clear strategy around the well-being of the people.