National Nati news / Politics / Business / Education / Environment / Reo and Culture
Written by: Herewini Te Koha, TRONPnui Chief Executive
13 Nov 2017

It’s hard to be too critical of a year that saw TRONPnui Group grow its overall asset base to $232m, improve its net equity by $10m and reduce bank debt by $1.5m.

Ngati Porou members can take confidence from that performance and, importantly, the Ngati Porou social and cultural development work that this enabled. Alongside our advocacy, programmes and service delivery work we also undertook two major engagement exercises with Ngati Porou hapu and whanau: the ratification of the new foreshore and seabed deed of agreement; and TRONPnui’s consultation on its own trust deed. This year TRONPnui’s own operation was maintained through an early dividend received from its commercial subsidiary, Holdco. Holdco made available a total of $7.4m to the Parent to attend to some extraordinary matters as well as its normal operation.

The former included:

  •  meeting the Parent’s cash and cashflow needs while proposed asset sales are finalised in the coming year
  • starting the implementation of the Reo Ake o Ngati Porou strategy; and
  • opting to defer a tax credit refund from IRD, as a matter of prudence.

To get to a sustainable footing I have agreed a programme with my board to reduce our core expenditure by at least $1m in the current year and, by 30 June 2019, be achieving cash flow and operating surpluses. At the time of writing this annual report TRONPnui is completing an organisational restructure and downsizing as part of its cost reduction measures. Staffing cuts are not easy to propose, and harder still to implement, when the affected people have worked hard for our organisation and for Ngati Porou. I want to acknowledge the TRONPnui staff for their understanding and commitment as I work through the staffing and cost reductions.

Matakitaki mai: Watch TRONPnui CEO, Herewini Te Koha report on the Runanganui's 2016/2017 activities. To listen to the Radio Interview and to download the full TRONPnui Annual Report scroll down to the end of this article. 

NGATI POROU CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT & INVESTMENT

This year we started implementing the revitalisation strategy for Te Reo Ake o Ngati Porou. This work is led by Toitu Ngati Porou, the cultural development subsidiary within the Group. Interested hapu collectives and Ngati Porou taurahere have identified and endorsed their ‘champions’ to coordinate their own language plans and activities.

A set of implementation funds is also in place now to support hapu and other Ngati Porou groups with their projects to learn, speak, celebrate and enhance their reo ake. We will be reporting the progress and results of these programmes in the coming months, and drawing on those results to seek out further support and funding.

Our marae are a vital part of whanau and hapu cultural infrastructure. This year $1.1m was paid in marae grants to support a mix of marae development activities that benefit us all. Toitu also oversaw the continued roll out of the marae insurance scheme, which is delivering better coverage and much more affordable premiums for the participating marae. Over 40 marae are now connected to wi-fi, with TRONPnui meeting the connection costs and monthly wi-fi charges. For budget reasons this might change in the future but, until then, make the best possible use of that connectedness!

Over the last year Toitu expanded its work on the Ngati Porou Outcomes Measurement Tool through a collaborative venture with other Horouta iwi. This is leading edge work but it will need to attract investment from government and the philanthropic sector to go to full implementation. Our key interests in getting this model up and running is to better measure and report on Ngati Porou advancement across a range of social, economic, cultural and environmental indicators.

ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

TRONPnui helped the Ngati Porou Foreshore and Seabed Committee to oversee and complete the changes to the 2008 Deed with the Crown. The foreshore and seabed work culminated in 47 hapu formally ratifying the new deed, including two hapu that stood apart from the original deed in 2008.

Eight hapu are still to make their decision on the new deed while two hapu chose not to ratify. While this was taking place TRONPnui also put a ‘marine customary title’ application to the High Court before the statutory deadline expired in April. The TRONPnui application is a backstop for the ratifying hapu until the legislation for the new deed is passed and hapu customary title claims are dealt with under that Act. Getting the new legislation passed will be one of TRONPnui’s highest priorities in 2018.

Under the Waiapu Accord and Waiapu Koka Huhua long-term restoration programme, the East Coast Erosion Control project continued to recruit Ngati Porou erosion prone lands into the scheme. As a result of lobbying from TRONPnui and GDC the government made two big changes to the scheme.

 First, new applicants will no longer have to wear the ‘upfront’ costs of planting and fencing before getting reimbursed. Instead they will receive an advance and then draw down the balance as they satisfy their grant conditions. This removes a financial hurdle for the land blocks who want to come into the scheme in the time remaining.

Second, the scheme has been expanded to allow for ’community projects’ to address erosion. TRONPnui will be encouraging proposals from Ngati Porou communities that could range from a native nursery to catchment-level erosion measures, through to potential carbon unit ventures between our landowners and major corporates. In 2018 we will also be exploring the opportunities arising from the new government’s policy to plant 100 million new trees over ten years.

At the local government level we gave considerable effort, alongside other Ngati Porou submitters, to the GDC’s proposed regional freshwater plan. In this we were supportive of other Tairawhiti iwi impacted on by the plan while also recognising that our catchment circumstances on the East Coast, and as Ngati Porou, are different to the other iwi. GDC has made very few compromises on its regional plan but, in 2018, we will build on the Waiapu Catchment joint management agreement, and support other strong platforms, like the Te Uawanui project, to advance hapu environmental, cultural and developmental interests in their freshwater resources.

Work continued on the development and drafting of Nga Whakahaere Takirua, the conservation strategy to be governed between Ngati Porou and DoC. TRONPnui’s conservation committee and the DoC team aim to complete a draft strategy in early 2018 for consultation with hapu and community stakeholders. TRONPnui also broke new ground with DOC on the Crown’s beehive concessions policy. TRONPnui has been awarded the concession and, as is standard Crown policy, it will pay an annual commercial fee to DOC to make use of it. However, under a change to the policy, half of the annual fee will be tagged explicitly for local conservation projects agreed to by TRONPnui and local DoC, rather than go solely to the Crown. Our committee’s intention is to apply those funds to help hapu build their resource management capacity.

STRONG REBOUND FROM ‘BREXIT’

Last year Ngati Porou Holding Company’s and the Group’s overall profit was slashed by the impact of ‘Brexit’ on Holdco’s equities portfolio. But, during the course of 2016/17, markets rebounded and, added to that, Holdco drew new income from the sale of logs, Manuka honey and forest carbon credits. In all, Holdco delivered a strong commercial performance. Its profit for the year was $15.3m, more than double the previous year’s, and included $1.4m from its seafood and farming businesses.

Holdco also embarked on new investments, in berry fruit and tourism, and a relationship with Air New Zealand that all have real scope to grow commercial opportunities for Ngati Porou landowners and businesses. The DoC beehive concession will also help to increase Manuka honey supply and scale for the Group and Ngati Porou Miere. In the past year TRONPnui and Holdco have played a leading role in Tairawhiti regional and Maori economic development plans. Local industries and economic agencies are looking increasingly to Ngati Porou as a valuable, long-term economic partner. In all of this, our focus is unabashedly on improving the economic conditions for Ngati Porou.

SERVICES TO OUR WHANAU AND COMMUNITIES

TRONPnui and Ngati Porou Hauora (NPH) maintained the delivery of social services, primary health care and hospital-based services to Ngati Porou East Coast whanau and communities. It is a huge challenge to ensure good and accessible health services to whanau on the East Coast. NPH’s enrolled population on the Coast has declined and, with it, NPH’s funding for its core primary care services.

In January NPH’s services were further impacted when its clinic at Tikitiki burnt down. A decision has yet to be taken on the feasibility of rebuilding and resuming services at Tikitiki. A major priority for TRONPnui will be to put a full business case to the new government on a new and sustainable model of health and social support services to our communities.

This year TRONPnui’s social services arm, Whanau Oranga, administered over 20 programmes, and delivered them in partnership with hapu social services, to more than 3,000 clients. The programmes include support for new born babies and their parents, attendance and social work services in schools, youth services, training initiatives and justice initiatives.

Whanau Oranga is also an accredited social housing provider and is increasing its tenancy management role to help address the emergency and long-term housing shortage within the district. TRONPnui resumed its housing committee to give direction and support to this work. We also have plans to make use of some of the accommodation units at Te Tini o Porou as emergency housing, and towards the end of 2016/17 we received significant assistance from Te Puni Kokiri to progress this.

TRONPnui has also led work to improve collaboration across the social sector and, especially, for whanau who contend with a mix of high support needs. Our intention here is to draw on regional and national decision makers to improve services and outcomes for our whanau and communities.

IN CLOSING

I want to acknowledge and thank Ngati Porou members for their interest in, and goodwill towards, the work of TRONPnui and its subsidiaries. Even the most ardent critic is, at the end of the day, concerned to see us do better. Thank you also to the TRONPnui Group boards and committees, my staff, our corporate and funding partners, and our key suppliers. The TRONPnui trust deed review, and feedback given by participants, points the way for me, my management team and the boards we serve. We are committed to improving engagement and understanding with the iwi members and making real and important gains for Ngati Porou and Ngati Poroutanga.

Kia ora tatau.

Herewini Te Koha

Chief Executive Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou

  • To read the entire 2017 TRONPnui Annual Report and Full Financials click the following link TRONPnui Annual Report 2017

  • To Listen to the Radio Ngati Porou interview with TRONPnui CE, Herewini Te Koha click here.