Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation chair Mavis Mullins is stepping down after this Friday's annual meeting of Māori shareholders.
After 12 years leading the Māori incorporation, which owns 42,000 hectares of farmland from Ohakune to Whanganui, the first female chair of the board says she's proud to look back on what has been achieved on behalf of more than 9000 shareholders and their descendants.
But she says she has been talking about board succession for some time and signalling to shareholders for the past two years that she would stand down to help create space for the next generation of young Māori leaders.
"We've got so many amazing, up-and-coming young leaders, we all have to know and appreciate that bigger picture.
"My term comes to an end next year and, as indicated last year, I intend to retire before the term ends. This will allow me to tautoko the transition to a new chair.
"The way we support and encourage succession is vital, and room must be made to allow the cohort of emerging leaders who are waiting in the wings to step forward."
Mullins says she will tell the board at the first meeting after the AGM that she will not seek re-election as chair but will remain as a board member. Next year, she will not make herself available for re-election to the board.
Mullins says stepping down from Ātihau-Whanganui will be tough for her after more than 15 years with the incorporation, but was the right thing to do to ensure the organisation is prepared for the future.
"I love where we're going, what we're doing, the resilience that we've been able to create through diversification, that we're trying harder to be better communicators to our growing whānau of shareholders. It's just such an exciting time for Ātihau, but it's not about me, it's about how we future-proof our entity."
Mullins says she's looking forward to the incorporation's first online annual meeting this Friday. Despite a tough year in 2020 due to Covid-19, the incorporation will report positive results for the financial year, including paying down $700,000 of debt.
"I'm really pleased with our results in a Covid world. We're on track and all the indicators are positive."
Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation is one of Aotearoa's largest farmers, with 70,000 sheep, 4000 beef cows, 700 dairy cows and 3000 beehives on its whānau farms.