Called Home to Help Lead Iwi Into the Future
Earlier this year Tuhourangi kaumatua Anaru Rangiheuea encouraged his nephew Alan Hamiora Skipwith to "come home" and put his considerable skills and experience towards working for his Tuhourangi hapu and for Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa (TPT).
Alan, who grew up in Whakarewarewa and lived in Ngapuna next to his grandparents Kipa and Rangikahuaue, was humbled by the call.
"I grew up in Whaka and acknowledge my connections to Hinemihi and through my mother to Te Roro o Te Rangi/Ngati Whakaue. Rotorua has always been home, and while I have not always lived here, this is where I come to reconnect and to be with whanau," Alan said.
"My aunties and uncles have regularly asked me to come back and assist our Tuhourangi people and to do what I could to assist Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa - I have always been humbled by the requests, and decided it was time for me to serve our people."
Alan was firstly elected this year onto the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority. This was closely followed by his election to TPT and following a vote by his fellow trustees he was appointed chairman at the July meeting.
"I felt privileged to be asked to chair such a strong and talented group of people. We have been blessed with talented trustees who bring a broad range of skills to the trust to help ensure robust and sound decisions are made."
Alan acknowledged the leadership and commitment of former chairman Eru George.
"Eru has been chairman since TPT was formed in 2006," Alan said. "He provided the direction for our affiliate members as we concluded our settlement and in the early stages of our post-Treaty settlement development.
"I thank Eru and the trustees who have not continued on TPT following recent elections."
For Anaru Rangiheuea, former Te Arawa Maori Trust Board chairman, it was the mix of business and leadership experience, coupled with a passion and love for his whanau and iwi that inspired his call to Alan to get involved in the governance of TPT.
"I have watched Alan's career as he has continued to improve and up-skill himself and rise through the ranks of the businesses he has been part of. He is driven commercially, while retaining his Te Arawa humility and his commitment for whanau and our people."
Anaru said while over time it was important for Alan to learn in greater detail the history of Tuhourangi and TPT, the priority was on improving the business and operations of the trust and its entities, and building and maintaining the confidence of the many thousands of affiliate iwi and hapu members.
"Alan can focus on the business and leadership of the trust, he can leave the tikanga and kawa to the kaumatua, which shouldn't intrude on the business.
"Alan has strong whakapapa connections to Ngati Pikiao, and Ngati Tarawhai. He has the support of our kaumatua. He needs to focus on the business, TPT like many Maori trusts needs good accountancy skills, and the ability to understand the balance sheet."
Alan's career has provided him with a wealth of business and management experience and knowledge.
Educated at Whakarewarewa Primary School, Rotorua Intermediate and Rotorua Boys' High, Alan's first job was an accounts clerk with Internal Affairs, before he joined Fletchers at Ngongotaha. He studied extramurally in accounting and management, before taking on his first senior accounting role for Fletcher's Native Logging and Sawmilling Division.
He was appointed accountant of the Taupo Sawmill, before returning two years later to Ngongotaha as head accountant. Management roles followed in Hamilton, then Ngongotaha as the plant manager, before being appointed manager of Placemakers in Rotorua.
After 19 years with Fletchers, Alan joined Benchmark Building Supplies in management roles in Rotorua, Sydney and Tauranga. In 1997 he was appointed area manager based in Auckland.
"Bunnings bought the business in 2000 and I became national operations manager responsible for all stores in New Zealand (2000 employees and an annual turnover of $500 million)."
Alan is the New Zealand manager for DIY Resolutions NZ Ltd, and said he was excited by the challenge of performing his management roles alongside his responsibilities as TPT chairman.
"We have been elected to TPT because we bring skills that our people feel are needed to help guide our waka," Alan said of the trustees and management team.
"It is important to acknowledge the immense effort and achievements of those who have brought us to where we are today, rangatira like Rawiri Te Whare, our kaumatua Anaru and Rangipuawhe, Joe Malcolm, there are too many to mention here.
"I would also like to welcome new board members ... to TPT. We have major and crucial mahi before us, and I am, like all on TPT, motivated to ensure we are doing all we can to be focused on achieving our potential."
Alan's priority is to review the operations of the trust and get up to speed with the key issues and priorities for the board moving forward.
"We have to understand the business and the needs of our people and put in place processes that ensure we are efficient and doing all we can to assist our affiliate iwi and hapu members. I am excited by the challenges ahead and I thank all those who have been a part in allowing me this chance to play a part in working for our people."