Taranaki Maori leader Hinerangi Raumati has a vision.
She wants Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation (PKW), the Maori corporate farming organisation she chairs, to gain control of 18,000 hectares of Taranaki Maori leasehold land.
The land is held in 295 leases administered perpetually under the Maori Reserved Land Act 1955 and amending legislation passed in 1997.
If she could, she would buy it all today. But she's pragmatic enough to acknowledge that will take time and resources. Gaining control of that leasehold land would let PKW's 8000 shareholders regain their place as tangata whenua - never mind that's a phrase whose spiritual meaning is lost in the literal English translation, people of the land.
Hinerangi Raumati became the first woman to chair PKW when she was elected to the role last November. She had set the bar by becoming its first female director in 2006.
Taranaki's largest corporate dairy farmer and Fonterra's largest Taranaki milk supplier, PKW actively operates 15 dairy farms comprising 2500ha in addition to the leasehold land.
Ms Raumati said the incorporation had a responsibility to keep its landholding intact. That obligation arose both from Maori affinity with the land and from the legacy of 19th century government confiscation of Maori land.
If the resources were available, she'd like to purchase all PKW leases today. She said the incorporation would like access to its land. "I'd like to do it sooner rather than later. You have to be aspirational about these things.
"The lessees would realise their capital and PKW will get control of their land - which they've been denied since (confiscation in) 1892."
PKW's 15 dairy farms are operated by 50:50 and variable order sharemilkers and farm managers - a mix that lets the incorporation develop the skills of its staff. It also has two drystock farms and a calf-rearing unit.
Dairy production is expected to exceed 2.5 million kilograms milksolids (MS) this year, about 200,000kg ahead of budget. Last year the farms achieved record production of 2.4 million kg MS.
However, revenue was expected to be similar because this season's Fonterra payout would be less than it was last season.
Ms Raumati said PKW could offer Maori and others a pathway to farm ownership through its mixed portfolio of farm management. Twenty-six per cent of PKW staff were Maori, and 75 per cent of its corporate office staff were Maori.
"And we're keen to encourage and extend that employment. We're a giant whanau business and family members with the right skills are encouraged to participate."
Barriers to PKW's expansion included finding good quality investments, staff able to manage its assets and new investments, and a lack of capital.
PKW supported shareholders and Taranaki iwi through its charitable trust, scholarships, and community, educational and marae grants, so the benefits extended beyond shareholders.
Ms Raumati grew up in Ngaruawahia, living on Turangawaewae Marae, and brings Waikato and Taranaki whakapapa to her PKW role.
The daughter of Tom Raumati, who grew up at Parihaka, and his wife, Lorraine, she says they both had a significant influence on her.
Other important role models were her late uncle, kaumatua Sam Raumati QSM, a member of the former Taranaki Maori Trust Board and Egmont National Park Board, and her late aunt, social entrepreneur and kuia Marje Rau- Kupa.
At Waikato University she gained bachelor's and master's degrees in management studies.
Her ministerial appointment several years ago to the Waikato Community Trust broadened the organisation's diversity and set her on a path to governance. "It was an ideal environment to learn good governance and gave me an understanding of community investment and social distribution."
Ms Raumati, 45, is married to Samoan secondary school teacher Lala Tuua, of Auckland, and has a nine-year-old stepson.
"I don't personally see myself as a role model for Maori women, but I do get lots of comment about being one. If I'm doing the job right, others will follow."
She leads a youthful board, including Taranaki Regional Council chairman and Fonterra director David MacLeod, Taari Nicholas, Hinerangi Edwards, Bev Gibson, Tokorangi Kapea and Tokatumoana Walden.
When she joined the board, the average age of the directors was 38. "That's unheard of for a Maori organisation," she said.
A chartered accountant, she is executive director of operations for tertiary institution Te Wananga o Aotearoa, director of Maori health and fisheries organisations Nga Miro Health Trust and Te Ohu Kai Moana and of the Public Trust.
She was also chief financial officer of Tainui Group Holdings from 2002-2009.
- Taranaki Daily News
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