Wise investments of treaty settlement money has seen a Rotorua iwi trust add more than $7 million to its assets while dishing out the highest ever distribution of grants in one year.

Ngati Whakaue Assets Trust has grown its asset base from $9 million to $16.8 million in the past five years and last year gave out a record $689,985 worth of grants, taking the total distributions since 2009 to more than $1.5 million.

They included capital grants to each of its marae, money to help fund this Saturday's Whakaue Whakanuia and helping insulate homes.

The trust, which represents six marae affiliated with Ngati Whakaue, was set up in 2009 after the "Treelords" Treaty of Waitangi deal.


Chairwoman Katie Paul said she was proud of the trust's achievements, including the capital grants of $100,000 to each marae and the installation of solar hot water into the Whakaue marae at Maketu.

Ms Paul said as a settlement entity they decided to make contributions to the marae.

"They are the heart of our culture - the places people go when they die, wed, have birthdays."

The decision to put solar hot water into the marae at Maketu was inspired by the work Tuhoe had done with its building.

"It was about how do we reduce the footprint. The plan is to do other marae."

The trust is also the main funder of Ngati Whakaue's Whakanuia, a get-together for the descendants of Ngati Whakaue.

She said she was particularly proud of partnering with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority to insulate 50 homes for families who really needed it.

"But I was most surprised and saddened that we could not insulate another 40 or so homes because the condition of the buildings required further work - the insulator reported some of the homes were unfit to live in. These are homes with families.

"We quickly realised this was not going to be a quick fix and way beyond what we could afford to remedy."

She said that had prompted them to have conversations with other agencies because it was bigger than they could do alone.

Ms Paul said helping improve housing was something she hoped to continue to focus on in the upcoming 2016/2017 financial year and the trust was talking with other Ngati Whakaue entities and beneficiaries about where the need was and where the focus should be.

One of those to benefit was Hilary Dewes-Green, whose family home was insulated thanks to funding from the trust.

Mrs Hewes-Green said it had made a huge difference.

"The house is so much drier. It is just awesome. The kids haven't been as sick."

Success highlights:
- Total assets growth increases 103 per cent in value since 2010
- Total distributions since 2009 of $1,521,461