Sir Toby steps down after 16 years at the helm

Sir Toby Curtis is the inaugural chairman of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust. Supplied photo.

After 16 years as Te Arawa Lakes Trust’s inaugural chairman, Dr Sir Toby Curtis has announced that he is stepping aside from the role to enable governance succession.

The Trust’s Deputy Chairman, Te Ure o Uenukukōpako trustee representative and experienced iwi governor, Geoff Rolleston has taken over as Chairman until the Board confirms an appointment. Mr Rolleston has served on Te Arawa Lakes Trust since 2015.

Dr Curtis, 82, will remain on the Board and work closely with Mr Rolleston to support the transition.

"In the past three years in particular, the Trust has developed and transitioned to a whole new level," says Sir Toby.

"This has manifested in a range of different environmental kaupapa, including with the Trust now taking on many of the contracts relating to this mahi/work itself.

"This has not only created a large number of new roles for whānau – at a time when job losses were experienced due to Covid – but it also means we can apply an even greater mātauranga Māori approach to this critical mahi.

"But the Trust’s responsibility is much bigger than the environment, with our purpose including advancing wider educational, spiritual, economic, social and health outcomes for Māori.

"A great deal of hard mahi has been done in recent years to support this, particularly during Covid, with significant success.

"As we near the centenary of the establishment of the Te Arawa Trust Board – which worked tirelessly to negotiate our lakes settlement with the Crown – and with the Trust moving into an exciting programme of development, it is the right time to hand on the rākau."

Geoff says he is humbled and proud to step up as Chairman.

"Nobody will ever be able to fill the shoes of Tā Toby – nor should we ever seek to try.

"We have built strong capability around the Board table and across the Trust, and we are well equipped to continue this mahi – which has never been more important."

Geoff (Nō Ngāti Whakaue me Ngaiterangi) has more than 30 years’ experience in a range of senior management and governance roles in the Māori, community and private sectors, encompassing the forestry, dairy, mixed livestock, tourism, horticulture and construction industries.

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