An imminent law change will modernise the scope of a Wairarapa-based trust board that annually hands out more than $60,000 worth of scholarships to Maori secondary students, its chairwoman says.

Wai Quayle, chairwoman of the Papawai and Kaikokirikiri Trust Board, said the organisation granted scholarships for up to 200 Year 11 to Year 13 Maori students a year and Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott was sponsoring the amendment of an act governing the trust.

Mr Scott introduced the Papawai and Kaikokirikiri Amendment Bill for its first reading in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Scott said, which would update the more than 70-year-old piece of legislation.

"The Papawai and Kaikokirikiri Trusts Board distributes trust funds for the purpose of post-primary Maori students' education. This Bill will strengthen the board's role by removing restrictions in the current law as to where the funds are spent, allowing the Trust to invest in Maori education at its discretion," Mr Scott said.


"Another change is to establish a more robust nomination of board members. Tangata whenua of Wairarapa will be able to play a role in electing or appointing members to the board.

"The Bill also helps to facilitate the long-term development of land. This is essential, as it empowers the board to increase the amount of trust money to be distributed to students.

"These changes can only be achieved through legislation, and I am pleased to be the sponsor of this Bill," he said.

Mrs Quayle said the history of the trust reached back to 1853 when Wairarapa Maori gifted two parcels of land -- at Papawai in Greytown and in Ngaumutawa Rd Masterton -- to the Anglican Church upon which schools were to be built.

The trust had since bought a third parcel of land at Clareville near Carterton, she said.

The Papawai and Kaikokirikiri Trusts Act was enacted in 1943 to allow the board to distribute its net income as educational scholarships; two thirds to students at Church of England schools and a third to pupils at other schools.

"Back in the day that may have been the case but over the years things had changed and in 1984 we started talking to the education board about those changes -- less kids at boarding school and the funding regime needed to change as well."

She said year 9 students were formerly eligible but the "bar was raised" due to the high number of recipients who left school within two years. Eligibility also depended on prospective students tracing a lineage to Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.