Ngati Hine leader and educator Pita Tipene has been appointed the new chairman of the trust governing the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Mr Tipene's appointment comes amid big plans for the nation's birthplace with plans for a multimillion-dollar museum dedicated to the 28th Maori Battalion and just after a highly successful hosting of the Prime Minister's Waitangi Day welcome, an event previously held at Te Tii Marae.

However, it also comes as the organisation faces a Serious Fraud Office enquiry relating to financial irregularities.

Mr Tipene represents the descendants of Kawiti on the Waitangi National Trust Board. A former teacher, he is closely involved in Taitokerau economic initiatives and holds a number of governance roles. He is also co-chairman of Te Kotahitanga, a hapu group active in the Ngapuhi Treaty settlement process.


Meanwhile, Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson has been elected co-deputy chairwoman alongside the current deputy, Dennis McBrearty.

Ms Simpson is of Ngati Manu whakapapa and represents the descendants of Pomare on the board. She has a multitude of roles, including as director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Ngai Tahu Tourism, Tainui Group Holdings, Ag Research and Deep South National Science Challenge. She is also a board member of Global Women and a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.

Mr McBrearty has been deputy chairman since 2013 and acting chairman since the departure of Pita Paraone in September 2017.

He is a director of Law North, a Far North law firm, and is the Bay of Islands representative on the board.

The other new board members, Rino Tirikatene and Shane Reti, represent the Government and the Opposition, respectively.

Rino Tirikatene is the MP for Te Tai Tonga, the largest electorate in the New Zealand and has 14 years experience in Maori economic development roles. He is Ngai Tahu on his father's side and Ngati Hine on his mother's side.

Dr Reti, the MP for Whangarei, is a member of the Health Select Committee and deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee. He is co-chairman of the NZ/US Parliamentary Group and is on the executive of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament.

The former GP has held roles with the Northland District Health Board and has been an assistant professor at Harvard University.

Late last year the board called in audit firm Deloittes to carry out an independent investigation after staff doing routine account analysis picked up financial irregularities over a 12-month period starting in 2016. The SFO then became involved.

In an email to supporters earlier this year Mr McBrearty said from the information he had received to date he did not believe any current staff were involved in the transactions.