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Change of chair at trust

New chairman of the Ngati Kahungunu post-settlement governance trust Robin Potangaroa, right, with past chairman Ian Perry, and trust member Marama Tuuta. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

As boardroom shake-ups go, the change of chairman at Ngati Kahungunu’s settlement trust was relatively drama-free.

Robin Potangaroa is the new chairman, taking over from Ian Perry who had held the position since 2011.

The two were initially the only nominations for the position, after March’s election, but Mr Perry stood down before votes were counted.

Another trustee, Haami Te Whaiti, stood in a second election won by Mr Potangaroa.

Mr Perry laughed when it was suggested he may be disappointed to lose the chair after the trust had just initialled a Treaty of Waitangi settlement made up of $93 million and 19,000 hectares of land.

“Absolutely not – I was asked to do a chairman’s job and we’re here now.”

He said Mr Potangaroa represented a new generation, and the change would allow him to concentrate more time on his farming operation.

“There’s a whole lot of things that need to happen and it’s timely for the change,” he said.

“Robin has my total support. There are no problems in it for me.”

Mr Perry said he stood down in the election process when he was convinced Mr Potangaroa was serious in his intentions.

“Knowing that he was serious in standing, I told the vice-chairman that I was happy to step aside. That’s as simple as it is.”

Mr Potangaroa said his focus was consulting iwi members to find out what they wanted from the settlement process.

“I see our role as a trust as always growing the vitality of our people, so they stand tall as Ngati Kahungunu and as citizens of this country,” he said.

“We are consulting our stakeholders, our people, to see what they want from settlement for Ngati Kahungunu in 20, 30 or 40 years.”

He said the trust had already established a statement of investment policy and objectives (SIPO), to guide investment of the settlement funds, after some high profile failures of iwi investments in other parts of the country.

“The SIPO means that there is process always in place . . . a separation of governance and management.

“A lot of those that failed, have been where negotiators were involved in the business arm as well.”

The trust has received two official requests to review the results of the trust election, after the publication of results early last month.

Critics highlighted problems with registered members not receiving voting packs and packs containing incorrect candidate information.

As required by the trust deed, the review will be carried out by an appointee of the Wellington District Law Society, Mr Potangaroa said.

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