Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui Trust has announced the appointment of new trustee Sheena Maru as its new chairperson.
She is the only woman on the trust and was appointed by the new Board of Trustees on Sunday.
Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui is the post-settlement governance entity of Whanganui iwi for the purposes of the Whanganui River settlement.
Although Maru is a new Trustee, she is no stranger to its work having answered a call from the early Whanganui river claim committee nearly 20 years ago.
"I was really lucky to have that phone call – 'have you got a couple of hours?' And a couple of hours turned into a life-long commitment," she said.
"In those days the river negotiations committee was just a few people and mostly voluntary.
"I had just had my third baby, she came with me and we never left the kaupapa."
Maru said because of this work she was privy as a young person to the type of institutional knowledge handed down over generations.
"I think about all of those ones – Aunty Mina, Aunty Mā, Aunty Joan Akapita, Uncle Boy, Uncle Baldy, Uncle Piripi – and all of those, from the top of the river to the bottom, who I was really lucky to spend a lot of time with.
"I like to think that we were given our navigation points based on where we had come from and where they were committed to going forward for our people."
Maru said in electing the new trustees, the river tribes had backed a relatively youthful board, including a 25-year-old and two 27-year-olds. Of the remaining four trustees, three are under the age of 50.
She said the previous board had left a strong foundation from which to lead out a new strategic approach to support whānau and hapū to deliver their own solutions.
Dr Rāwiri Tinirau was re-elected as the deputy chairperson.
Other returning trustees are Joey Allen and Che Wilson, and the remaining new trustees are Tawhiao McMaster, Elijah Pue and Tamahaia Skinner.
"He rā hou tēnei," Maru said. "Today is a new day. We are excited by the challenges ahead and look forward to leading out the next phase of our development, with the river and its people at the centre."