31 Jan 2024

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu chief executive Arihia Bennett resigns

2:49 pm on 31 January 2024
Ngai Tahu CEO Arihia Bennett

Arihia Bennett has overseen all iwi operations, including farming, seafood, tourism and investment. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu's chief executive is stepping down.

Arihia Bennett has spent almost 12 years at the helm of her iwi, which this year will celebrate $1 billion of investment into tribal development since their 1998 settlement.

In a statement, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Justin Tipa said Arihia has demonstrated exceptional leadership over her many years of service.

"Arihia has been instrumental in the continued growth and development of our organisation - not only in an economic sense but most importantly our cultural and social outcomes.

"Her attention to weaving strong cross sector relationships has been underpinned by a focus on wealth and health outcomes. Her huge contribution to Ngāi Tahu Holdings and the board of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, whilst leading an organisation of kaimahi and engaging with whānau, has been unwavering."

She has navigated challenges with wisdom, empathy and smart decision-making, and should be proud of her mahi, Tipa said.

A yet-to-be-determined interim chief executive will take over in March, until a permanent replacement is appointed later this year.

In 2008, Bennett was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and the community.