Rotorua-based Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust was highlighted as an example of a successful post settlement governance entity at the Annual Maori Legal and Business conference in Wellington today.
Pukeroa Group trustee and director David Tapsell, one of the keynote speakers at the conference, gave a history of the growth and development of the trust over the last 15 years and discussed a number of common themes for success along with other conference speakers.
"The first thing that interested many attendees was the actual growth of the Pukeroa Trust from $39m in 2003 to over $200m in 2016," he said.
"We have been under the radar because our settlement was only a small area of land that we had gifted the Crown for railway purposes in the first place - we didn't receive a large cash settlement like some iwi.
"Even though we received a very small part (non-comprehensive) settlement in 1994 relative to other large settlements we have worked really hard to develop these assets for the benefit of our people and our city."
While conference speakers drew out many common "success themes" across entities, Mr Tapsell said it was important to remember that everyone was different and needed to work to their unique circumstances.
"Yes, common themes to success include good governance, trust, shared vision, strategy and implementation but it is how you apply those themes that really does make the difference."
Mr Tapsell said some entities were great in planning and strategy but reluctant to implement.
"In part I think this is down to the stigma associated with failure, but from a governance and business perspective doing nothing (which I define as including keeping your money on term deposit) you actually are failing because in real terms you are going backwards.
"I don't think our people put us in positions of governance to monitor a term deposit," Mr Tapsell said.
"No one is perfect, including Pukeroa, but we are doing well economically and this has allowed us to invest in our shareholders and broader Ngati Whakaue over the years either directly or through our charitable trust or developments in areas such as education, health, housing and jobs."
Mr Tapsell said most recently they stepped in to rescue the city's proposed aged care village - that was now completed and operational as The Care Village in Ngongotaha.
"A number of Ngati Whakaue reside in that facility and we were really proud to be able step in to complete that. Conference attendees were also blown away about our recently announced Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa, not least of which because of the up to 80 new jobs that we hope will be filled by our own people."
"None of that would be possible without a solid and robust economic base," he said.
Mr Tapsell wound up by commenting on the broader prospects of Ngati Whakaue and said things were looking quite bright.
Pukeroa had recently started joint discussions with other Ngati Whakaue entities - Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands and Ngati Whakaue Assets Trust - on potential joint housing options.
"I see it as a positive thing that we can collaborate with other Ngati Whakaue entities for the benefit of our people.
"Both of those entities have solid boards and we are happy to explore options with them. Ngati Whakaue is in really good shape to move forward and use its growing economic base to provide further investment in its most important asset, its people."