A month after I started as chief executive the 2015 election results brought eight new trustees onto the fourteen-member board of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou (TRONPnui). The new board’s first meeting was held in December and, from that, it set about the task of confirming its main focus and priorities for its four-year term.
The new board’s main focus was very clear. It wanted to create, and grow, annual financial surpluses from TRONPnui’s operation to apply to Ngati Porou development. To do so it set the clear expectation that, within two years, TRONPnui would be living within its annual income rather than running deficits.
Making immediate inroads has been challenging given the breadth and size of operation that TRONPnui has become. When the new Board took office TRONPnui’s operating deficit for the year stood at $700,000 and was forecast to reach $1m by the end of June. Over the following seven months the board and management kept its deficit in check and, by 30 June, had clawed it back by ten percent. The parent and subsidiary boards led by example by reducing costs and volunteering many extra hours to keep important projects moving forward.
TRONPnui’s stronger budget discipline has continued into the current year while the intention for 2017/18 is to eliminate future deficits altogether. We will need to do a range of things to achieve this. First, our priorities for spending will be reduced and sharpened. We will focus on what matters most. Alongside that we will find efficiencies across all parts of our operation and make savings. Third, we will need a clear and manageable plan to reduce our bank debt as well as loans within the TRONPnui Group.
FINANCIAL SURPLUS IN A CHALLENGING YEAR
TRONPnui’s commercial subsidiary, Ngati Porou Holding Company Ltd (NPHCL), managed the Group’s commercial assets through a very testing year. At the end of 2015 global markets were affected by a down-turn in the Chinese economy and, in June, the UK ‘Brexit’ sent share markets tumbling.
‘Brexit’ wiped out around $4m in our Group earnings but those earnings were largely recovered when markets rebounded in July. Without the rebound a $0.4m profit was still achieved while the Group’s net assets grew by $1m. The Year End result was helped by the greater emphasis NPHCL’s own subsidiaries gave to containing costs, lifting profitability and exploring new markets.
Ngati Porou Holding Company Ltd also continued to support economic growth opportunities for Ngati Porou landowners and the rohe. This included support for the Ngati Porou Miere Limited Partnership, the only manuka honey enterprise that is led by Ngati Porou landowners for Ngati Porou landowners, and the formation of a relationship with Sumitomo, a major international company, to buy Ngati Porou logs.
The dual focus on growing the returns from the NPHCL businesses, while also brokering new venture opportunities for Ngati Porou landowners and enterprises, will be an ongoing feature of NPHCL’s commercial strategy.
Toitu Ngati Porou completed the third year of TRONPnui’s marae development programme, paying out $0.7m in marae grants and approving a further $0.2m. Toitu Ngati Porou also oversaw the continued roll out of the marae insurance scheme and marae wi-fi which have both been well received by marae.
Toitu Ngati Porou also finalised the long-term revitalisation strategy for te reo ake o Ngati Porou, as well as an initial plan of action. However implementation has been hampered by a shortage of operational capacity in TRONPnui. Management will ensure that, by the start of 2017, the strategy is up and running and that the opportunities this presents are promoted to our marae, hapu and taurahere.
Toitu Ngati Porou has continued to develop a tool to measure Ngati Porou experience against a range of social, economic and cultural indicators. The tool will enable TRONPnui to gather evidence on how government programmes, as well as our own investments, are performing against those indicators. This will create a strong basis for our future decision-making and investments as well as our dialogue with the Crown on local priorities.
SERVICES TO OUR WHANAU AND COMMUNITIES
This year our social services arms, Whanau Oranga, delivered more than twenty different programmes and services to people and whanau within our communities. The services on offer were accessed by 3,800 people, including 1,550 that received intensive support. I do want to acknowledge our teams’ work with Child Youth & Family (CYFs) and with Police this year. This work resulted in over 130 Ngati Porou children and their families being taken off CYFs’ books, and over 200 low-level offences being managed and resolved by an iwi justice panel of kaumatua, and our staff, rather than by prosecution in the district court. Our social services staff can take pride in the work they are doing to help thousands of local people each year to change their lives for the better.
While coping with its own significant financial stresses, Ngati Porou Hauora continued to provide GP services and other primary health care to over 9,000 residents on the East Coast and in Gisborne. Decent and accessible health services are vital to our whanau and, especially, those living in remote areas.
Since 2012 TRONPnui has helped to alleviate the Hauora’s budget pressures by providing loans and other financial relief totalling in excess of $6m. However, if TRONPnui is to eliminate its own deficits it may not be able to provide that level of funding support to the Hauora in future years. TRONPnui has therefore started discussions with the Minister of Health, the Ministry and the district health board to find a long-term solution. We will provide updates and opportunities for consultation with local communities as this work progresses.
ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
On the environmental resource management front the East Coast Erosion Control project continued to recruit Ngati Porou landowners, and close to 2,000 ha of our most erosion-prone lands, into the scheme. Applications to the scheme will close in 2019 so TRONPnui and the Gisborne District Council (GDC) have asked the Government to make the scheme easier for the less economic land blocks to come into. By our estimate there is at least another 5,000 ha of high erosion-prone lands in Ngati Porou ownership that would benefit from the scheme. We are hopeful that changes to the funding criteria will enable that to happen.
TRONPnui and GDC have also met during the year to progress implementation of the Waiapu Catchment Joint Management Agreement. However, much of our capacity has been tied up in the GDC’s hearing and submissions process on its proposed regional Freshwater Management Plan. We hope to have good provisions for hapu, and their tikanga, included in the freshwater management plan. If successful this will, in turn, flow through into catchment plan requirements for the Waiapu and all the other catchments within our rohe.
TRONPnui’s conservation committee also advanced its work with the Department of Conservation to develop Nga Whakahaere Takirua, a management strategy for the conservation lands within the Ngati Porou rohe. This work included three hapu and community wananga late last year as well as a process to give written feedback. A draft strategy is intended to be available for hapu and public consultation in early 2017.
TRONPnui also assisted the Foreshore and Seabed Committee to oversee the negotiations and changes to the 2008 Deed. This work, alongside the hapu cluster discussions on their proposed takutai management arrangements, has continued into the current year. It is expected that all outstanding matters will be completed in order that the hapu hold their ratification hui in January 2017. A successful ratification will conclude a major outstanding Treaty matter between Ngati Porou hapu and the Crown and set a strong platform for hapu-led fisheries and environmental planning and decision-making.
In closing I am pleased to have helped the new Board to meet its broad responsibilities to Ngati Porou while also paying attention to the financial bottom line. To that end I would also like to acknowledge and thank my senior management team, the NPHCL executive and TRONPnui Group staff for their effort and commitment to our organisation. The performance and financial efficiencies we strive for as a group will enable TRONPnui to make greater investment in what matters most: Ngati Porou whanau and their well-being as Ngati Porou.
Herewini Te Koha
Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou
To read the other reports from TRONPnui's 2016 Annual Report, as well as other supporting AGM material. Please click here.
Listen to Radio Ngati Porou's Hui A Tau interviews with TRONPnui representatives
TRONPnui representatives have been interviewed on RNP's Nga Take o te Wa current affairs show, in the lead up to the Hui a Tau. Radio Ngati Porou have made the interviews available on their SoundCloud account for those who were unable to listen to the live interviews.
Herewini Te Koha (TRONPnui Chief Executive)