Ngati Rangitihi and Tuhourangi have confirmed the settlement of their joint purchase of Waimangu Volcanic Valley Limited.
In late June, Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi and the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority, supported by Te Puia | New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, made a conditional offer for the business and assets of Waimangu Volcanic Valley Limited.
This was conditional on the transfer of existing lease arrangements.
The Department of Conservation has now confirmed those lease arrangements will be transferred to Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi and the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority and remain in place until 2056.
Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi Chairman Leith Comer says ownership of Waimangu will bring important strategic and commercial benefits for the iwi.
“This is a significant milestone for both Ngati Rangitihi and Tuhourangi and provides a strong platform to enable the continued success and growth of our people,” he says.
“The purchase also provides an opportunity to build on the work undertaken by Waimangu kaitiaki, the late Harvey James.
“We feel a keen sense of responsibility to build on Harvey's vision, and we're looking forward to working with his wife Trudi through this transition.”
Harvey, who passed away in February this year, was an award-winning environmental tourism leader and the recipient of a Rotorua District Council community leadership award for his work with the natural environment. His work will be celebrated with a maumahara (remembrance) at Waimangu.
Trudi James said her husband would have been thrilled to transfer his life's work and passion to a partnership of Ngati Rangitihi and Tuhourangi.
“We are very confident we have chosen the perfect partners to continue Harvey's vision of leading New Zealand in sustainable environmental tourism and his commitment to preserve the valley for future generations to study and enjoy.”
Tuhourangi Tribal Authority Chair Alan Skipwith says the confirmation of the purchase also marks the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between Ngati Rangitihi and Tuhourangi.
“Tuhourangi and Ngati Rangitihi have strong whakapapa hononga and an integrated mana whenua.
“We've realised that it's time to work together for the benefit of our people and to ensure that an important element of the region's tourism landscape stays in iwi hands. Let's not forget that it was iwi who led New Zealand's first tourism venture when hosting visitors at the Pink and White Terraces.
“More broadly, this purchase is about helping both our iwi reconnect with their tribal lands.”
The new ownership structure will involve a joint partnership between Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi and the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority, which will be supported by Te Puia.
The new company, Waimangu Volcanic Valley (2017) Limited, will have a board consisting of two representatives from Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi, one from Te Puia and one from the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority – with a revolving chairmanship starting with Tuhourangi Tribal Authority Chair Alan Skipwith.