Friday, 12 July 2013

A time for change


Kia ora koutou,
Firstly sorry that it has been awhile since my last post but sometimes life just gets in the way, particularly in the middle of winter.

Hei aha, I have finally found some space and I wanted to use this post to discuss the role of the Te Runanga o Ngati Awa (TRONA) board representative.

I believe, with the upcoming election, it is important that we all understand the responsibilities of the board. After all, we are the power behind them.

To start I would like to discuss the most recent TRONA board meeting, which  was held two weeks ago, to highlight a particular issue.

The point I would like to concentrate on was the passing of a resolution to increase the dividend paid to the runanga by the tribe’s financial arm.
Since its inception Ngati Awa Group Holdings has paid the runanga $1.5 million each year so that social initiatives can be provided to tribal members.

Chief financial officer Murray Haines said NAGHL was set to record a net cash surplus of $2.2m this year.
He noted key performers were Ngati Awa Asset Holdings with $6 million in shares, Ngati Awa Forest Ltd with $1.1m and Tumurau’s year-end profit of $630,000.

“That provides plenty of room to pay the $1.5 million to the runanga,” he said.
Following the financial report Ngati Wharepaia representative Materoa Dodd suggested the board could ask the financial arm to increase the dividend paid to the runanga  from $1.5m to $1.8m.

She said the board could discuss whether runanga chairman Te Kei Merito should ask NAGHL chair Wira Gardiner to increase the dividend.
“Or even $2m, given that some of investments are doing so well. It doesn’t hurt to ask.”

The suggestion was discussed and a resolution was put forward to increase the dividend to $1.8m. It was supported by 11 members with Nga Maihi not participating because Rihi Vercoe was standing in for the absent Regina O’Brien and four representatives voted against.
Those who did not support the motion were Joe Mason, Tani Wharewera, Stephen Haua and Manu Glen.

However, according to the tribe’s charter, the board does not have the right to increase the dividend.
“For the avoidance of doubt, and except as expressly provided by this Charter, all companies (including The Company) and other entities within the Ngati Awa Group shall be governed by their respective boards and the role of the runanga in respect of those companies and other entities shall be limited to the exercise of the rights conferred on the Runanga as shareholder, or (as applicable) appointor, and beneficiary of the relevant entity.”

In other words the runanga’s board is responsible for the governance of the organisation. Governance is the act of governing and relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance.
Therefore the board only has the rights to set performance measures and elect members to NAGHL or stand a director down, it cannot make operational decisions.

Except for Stanley Ratahi, who replaced his sister Enid Ratahi-Pryor as the Ngati Hikakino representative when she became chief executive, the board has been in place for three years.

By now they should understand what their role is however the point that this situation raises is most of them don’t.
Mrs Ratahi-Pryor, in her role as chief executive, has organised for several members of the current board to participate in governance training through the business coaching organisation, Icehouse.

However this did not offer me much reassurance and I am left to wonder why it has taken so long to look at the board’s skill.
The board’s term is almost complete and later this year each Ngati Awa hapu will elect a representative to the board.

There is every chance that the current stock could change and it is my firm belief that every hapu should at least discuss the options.
Let us remember that under this current board the organisation has lost at least $5.2 million in failed investments, ensured several redundancies, forced good contributors to leave because they didn’t toe the party line, scaled back the social initiatives offered to tribal members, overspent to the point where cost-cutting has had to become a way of life and developed a culture that can only be described as toxic.

The board may not have made the poor decisions directly but many of them have failed to ensure accountability and transparency. As a board they have not been clear about their expectations, they have had been told who has the power and when performance should have been verified they put their head in the sand instead.
There are those who have done a good job, they will know who they are and will be backed by their people. However there are others who no longer deserve to be there.

Our tribe is in a crisis.
What we need are strong leaders with proven skills who have fresh ideas. Leaders that will hold those who make bad decisions to account and ensure those who are making positive contributions have the support to continue doing so.

If you believe, as I do, that now is the time for change make sure you are registered to vote by going to this webpage and have your say at the elections later this year.

Even better, make a stand for your people and put your hat in the ring to be a hapu representative.
Ma te wa