Wanganui iwi have chosen people with a range of skills to take them forward from the settlement of the Whanganui River claim last year.

Seven trustees have been selected for Nga Tangata Tiaki o Whanganui, the post-settlement governance body.

One of them, Susan Osborne, was chosen earlier this year in a ballot at Taumarunui, while the other six were voted in by an election process which ended this week.

The six successful candidates - from a list of 16 nominees - were announced yesterday. They are Gerrard Albert, Miriama Cribb, Chris Kumeroa, Keria Ponga, Rawiri Tinirau and Reneti "Ned" Tapa.


Ken Mair, one of the outgoing initial trustees along with Te Tiwha Puketapu, John Maihi and Nancy Tuaine, commented yesterday: "The election result is pleasing in that a mix of skills, ages and gender will be present on the trust and will serve the river and the iwi well in this three-year establishment and implementation period of Ruruku Whakatupua, the Whanganui River Settlement.

"The really pleasing thing, personally, is the fact that so many responded to the call to put their names forward for election and that they are active in tribal affairs.

"A lot of strong nominees have missed election to the trust this time but will, nonetheless, continue to work to uphold the mana of the river in various capacities. We are in a strong place as an iwi."

Mr Albert was the only initial trustee to stand for election and he attracted the biggest vote. Lead negotiator in the river claim, and chairman of the initial Nga Tangata Tiaki body, Mr Albert has also chaired two other bodies that hold assets on behalf of the iwi.

Ms Cribb is the chairwoman of the Pakaitore Trust and business manager of Maori health research institute Te Atawhai o te Ao. She was a tutor at Massey University and has degrees in commerce and arts.

Mr Tapa and Mr Kumeroa have military backgrounds. Mr Tapa was has been a whanau ora navigator and cultural adviser, and was a Conservation Corps tutor for 15 years. Mr Kumeroa was in the New Zealand Special Forces. He lives in Auckland and now provides security. Team New Zealand, in the America's Cup, was one of his security clients and he has also worked in Iraq.

Ms Ponga has a BA and is the chairwoman of the Awa FM board, and a trustee of the Te Atihau Trust. She works as an account manager for Te Puni Kokiri Maori business facilitation service.

Mr Tinirau, whose Ranana Marae team won the Marae Kai Challenge this year, has degrees in accounting and Maori studies and has lectured at Massey University.

He is a senior lecturer and research manager for Whakatane-based Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi.

The previously elected Ms Osborne is a member of a Whanganui District Health Board committee, a former Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority member and a Jigsaw Whanganui trustee.

The trustees have been elected for three years and will assume their roles at the Nga Tangata Tiaki first annual meeting on September 26, when a chairman and deputy chairman will be elected.

The organisation is based for now at 357 Victoria Ave, alongside Te Puni Kokiri, the Maori Development Ministry.

Related tribal organisations the Pakaitore Trust, Te Whiringa Muka Trust and Whanganui River Maori Trust Board will continue to exist until the Whanganui River treaty legislation has passed through Parliament, which could take a year.