How Ngāruahine plans to bring financial focus back home

5:30 pm on 25 October 2023
Te Uraura Nganeko says a strong circular economy will bring benefits beyond financial gain to Ngāruahine.

Te Uraura Nganeko speaking at Te Korowai o Ngāruahine's recent AGM. Photo: Supplied

In the next five years the iwi wants to build 200 houses for uri (descendants), award at least 50 contracts locally, and create more than 200 jobs, apprenticeships and internships.

The south Taranaki iwi's post-settlement entity Te Korowai o Ngāruahine received $68 million in its Treaty of Waitangi settlement in 2015 and had since grown that pūtea (money) to $112 million.

But Te Korowai's pouuruhi (external relations lead) Te Uraura Nganeko said money was not the main priority for the iwi.

"We've done really well in commercial investments - but what we haven't done well is in delivering social outcomes for our people: creating jobs, developing businesses, building houses."

Nganeko told Te Korowai's recent AGM that required a paradigm shift.

"We needed a strategy that would build a strong Ngāruahine economy, with Ngāruahine at the helm, and that we privilege our own first and foremost."

The resulting procurement strategy - Te Ara Toiroa - would see Te Korowai prioritise business dealings with uri of Ngāruahine first, followed by other Taranaki uri and finally with Māori businesses from outside the region.

"That's the kawa (protocol) moving forward. All our ultimate decision-makers can't avoid it."

Nganeko said it would create a pipeline of business and employment opportunities.

"Having a strong vibrant circular economy is in my opinion the key enabler to deliver the social, cultural, environmental and economic goals and aspirations of Ngāruahine."

"We've been talking about it for decades, so now Te Korowai has put the pou in the ground and we're totally focused on supporting the health and prosperity of our people."

Te Kiwai Mauī is Ngāruahine's commercial arm, managing its settlement assets to provide a stable dividend to Te Korowai.

Taaringaroa Nicholas says local investment will pay off for uri, including those living elsewhere who want to come home.

Te Kiwai Mauī director Taaringaroa Nicholas. Photo: Supplied

Director Taaringaroa Nicholas told the AGM that Mauī had been investing outside the rohe (local area) in the hunt for good returns, especially from property.

But he said that will change over the next five years and beyond.

"We'll be looking to invest more in the rohe using the cashflow from outside the rohe and bringing it back to develop opportunities, mahi and benefits for the whānau that are here - and also opportunities for the whānau that want to come back."

Nicholas said their Pupuke te Hihiri local impact investment strategy was to invest not only for economic returns but also social, environmental and cultural benefits.

He said the major project of buying and rebuilding Te Rere o Kāpuni - the former Dawson Falls Lodge on Taranaki Maunga - offered multiple returns.

"Bringing people in from the world, manaaki-ing people and then telling our story for them to go out and say how wonderful their stay at Te Rere o Kāpuni was, and how wonderful the Ngāruahine people were who looked after them."

Te Kiwai Mauī is also investigating a combined civic development with South Taranaki District Council called Project Tukau, a multi-purpose iwi and civic facility in Manāia.

Plans are also underway to build warm affordable housing in Whakaahurangi (Stratford), working with the multi-iwi housing agency Ka Uruora.

- Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air