Three public meetings have been called for Thursday May 2 to discuss plans for forming a trust to manage Russell's wharf jointly with council-owned company Far North Holdings.
The meetings — 11am, 2pm and 6pm at Haratu Kororareka Marae, Pitt St, Russell — will also discuss the proposed management partnership agreement between the new trust and FNHL, which details how the two organisations will work with each other day-to-day to co-manage the wharf.
Formation of the Kororareka/Russell Wharf Community Kaitiaki Trust was one of the conditions that the community and FNHL both required to be in place before a transfer of the wharf's ownership from the council to Far North Holdings could take place.
The community also specified that the process should be run by the existing Russell Wharf and Waterside Trust (RWWT), which had a long-standing involvement in many matters relating to the operation and maintenance of the wharf.
Those stipulations were ratified by councillors as part of the council's long-term plan process last year. Public consultation around the LTP indicated overwhelming ratepayer support for the council's proposal to transfer ownership to FNHL.
The May 2 community meetings will be facilitated by lawyers from Chapman Tripp, the firm engaged by the RWWT to draft the proposed deed for the new trust and build the partnership agreement.
As with other wharf-related community consultation meetings in Russell in recent years, they will be identical in terms of format and the core information presented.
The new deed proposed by Chapman Tripp creates the community entity required to manage the wharf jointly with FNHL, specifying a governance structure that will ensure the trust is both representative of the wider Russell community and has the necessary competence to fulfil its obligations.
Once community input has been received both documents will be revised as necessary, submitted to the community for final review and then finalised.
Both the proposed new trust deed and the draft management partnership agreement will be published on local websites, including those of the Russell Business Association and the Kororareka Marae Society, by April 11. Links to all websites hosting the documents will be published on the Russell Wharf and Waterside Trust's Facebook page by the same date.
A general call for the nomination of trustees and an introduction of the nomination and voting process will also be published on April 11.
None of the existing RWWT trustees will be seeking election.
"We look forward to seeing some of the great management and community development talent that calls Russell home becoming involved in both the process and the governance of the new, expanded trust," RWWT trustee Riki Kinnaird said.
The RWWT was now in the process of being wound down, in anticipation of the new, more representative organisation being established. Mr Kinnaird expected winding down to be completed at the end of its financial year in June.
Its few assets would be disposed of in a manner consistent with the trust's objectives and deed. By the time of the public meetings it would have about $10,000 in cash, which would be used for professional services.
The Kororareka/Russell Wharf Community Kaitiaki Trust will be formed initially as a conventional trust. It is intended that charitable trust status will be applied for, enabling it to apply for charitable funding and to raise funds more effectively from businesses and community groups.
"There will be times when the Kororareka/Russell Wharf Community Kaitiaki Trust wants to spend money on the wharf for things that Far North Holdings is not willing or able to fund," Mr Kinnaird said.
"Charitable trust status keeps these alternative funding options open in a way that an incorporated society or other potential governance vehicles cannot."
The new, fully-representative Kororareka/Russell Wharf Community Kaitiaki Trust will be guaranteed by its joint management agreement with FNHL the second option of buying the wharf should FNHL ever decide to sell it. The council will hold the first option.
Mr Kinnaird hoped that the new trust would be formed, and the board of trustees elected, by the end of June, but said the process would ultimately take "as long as it takes".