Former council boss's iwi role comes to an end

The new manager at Rangitane O Wairau is no longer working for the iwi. Pictured is Rangitane House in Blenheim. (File photo)

The new manager at Rangitane O Wairau is no longer working for the iwi. Pictured is Rangitane House in Blenheim. (File photo)

The manager of a Marlborough iwi is no longer employed by the organisation, with the trust chairwoman saying his role was only temporary.  

Port Marlborough director Andrew Besley, who is also a former Marlborough District Council chief executive, has left his role as office manager at Rangitane O Wairau. 

Trust chairwoman Wendy Hynes said Rangitane was grateful to Besley for all the work he had done and his role was only interim. 

Besley was appointed after the iwi's general manager and communications manager went on leave last month, with Hynes declining to comment on their employment status. 

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"Andrew helped us out in an interim role for the first few weeks following the election of the new trustees. It was only intended to be a temporary arrangement," she said on Tuesday. 

Development manager Richard Bradley, who was a former chairman of the trust, also went on sick leave earlier this year. 

Hynes would not say whether Bradley, a former chairman of the trust, would return to work. 

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"No comments will be made about staff [and] employment matters," she said. 

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Besley said on Tuesday afternoon he became involved with Rangitane from his days at the council, where he built relationships with different iwi. 

He did not resign, but his term of employment had come to an end, he said. 

Divisions in the Rangitane O Wairau trust became public in 2016, after trustee Haysley MacDonald, owner of Te Pa Wines, was taken to court by Heritage New Zealand with his father Phillip for allegedly interfering with an archaeological site. 

A subsequent bid by the trust to vet candidates standing for the trust election on their knowledge of tikanga Maori was made last year, but the process never went ahead. 

The MacDonalds agreed to make a donation of $15,000 to Heritage New Zealand and to commission an archaeological report on their property, and Heritage NZ formally withdrew charges against them in February. 

An iwi member, who did not want to be named, said she was disappointed with the information given by the trust, claiming they had been "really evasive" since the trust election in February. 

General manager Liz McElhinney and communications manager Keelan Walker, who still have not returned to work, declined to comment on the situation.

Bradley could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. 

 - The Marlborough Express

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