Carol Kingham has been working for us for over 25 years. In her role as a property officer she’s developed strong relationships with tenants and these relationships bring benefits to Māori landowners.

Fences, roads, homes and communities

“We want to help owners leave a legacy for the next generation. We do that by engaging with really good tenants who improve the land that’s in their care,” says Carol.

Lasting relationships

Developing and maintaining lasting relationships with tenants has led to long-term benefits for owners, not just in terms of pūtea, but for the protection of the whenua.

“There have been a lot of tenants I’ve been working with the whole time I’ve been here. Situations where the tenants have been leasing the land long term because the owners are happy with their management of the whenua. It’s those relationships that stand out the most.”

It’s important that owners know their whenua is being well looked after. Our management of the property and the lease is an important step in ensuring that and is also a major motivating factor for Carol in her work.

“If I can work with a tenant towards an agreement that results in a really good deal for the landowners, then that’s a good day,” says Carol.

“When tenants maintain the improvements, fertilise the land, and look after the animals. Or if it’s an orchard or cropping, making sure everything’s done to the best farming practices possible. It’s great when we get a good tenant who looks after the whenua as if it’s their own.”

The value of whenua

Heather McPhee is an owner of Māori farmland in the Taranaki area. While she now lives on the Coromandel Peninsula, her whenua has always been a major factor in her life. Even though she lives away from the whenua, knowing that the people who lease and work the land are taking care of it is vital.

“I grew up on it. My childhood was spent on that land, on the marae, and with my grandparents, mother and uncles,” says Heather.

The value Heather places on the land doesn’t stem from its potential to provide a pūtea for owners. It comes from how it connects her to the past and the future.

“To me, the land is a beautiful connection to my ancestors, so I feel very strongly about it. We go through life and all, of a sudden, we have this acquisition that we’ve got through the passing of a parent. I’m a genealogist, so I study whakapapa – but this was a whole new ball game!”

“I went on a personal journey to discover the roots of everything, so I have a better understanding of where the connection came from.”Rama

Creating something for the whānau

Heather’s also determined that future generations understand their connection to the whenua, and for the whenua to continue being a special part of their lives.

“I connected lots of other whānau to the land. I created a little history booklet for my family and my sibling’s family. And now they’re on the same page and it’s not a mystery,” says Heather.

“The vision I have is to create something for our whānau to go back to. To be able to rekindle the stories, the marae and the land. For people to go home and participate in life there.”

- Maika Bennett