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New Trustees passionate about giving back to community

Spotswood College principal Nicola Ngarewa and Taranaki iwi CEO Wharehoka Wano have joined the trust to give back to the community that’s nourished them.

Nicola was born and brought up in Patea and is of Ngati Ruanui and Nga Rauru descent.

She gained a BA in Te Reo Maori and education at Victoria University, and taught in primary schools in Wellington, Northland and Rarotonga.

“The first secondary school I was employed at was Spotswood College. I came home to be a waitress and was fired the first night so ended up back in education,” Nicola says.

At the time, she was pregnant with her first child and could only have five weeks’ maternity leave, so principal Barry Finch supported her to come back to school as a full-time English and Te Reo Maori teacher and bring her baby.

“I always joke that I was the trendsetter for Jacinda (Ardern). From age five weeks onwards both my babies went back to school with me – there were hundreds of babysitters on tap. It was very natural for me; you don’t know any different,” she says.

She and partner Wayne Cribb’s two daughters are Karena, age 20, and Maruata, 17.

“Spotswood College was like going home for me,” she says of her new leadership role, which she began in November last year.

During her first stint at the co-ed school, Nicola was also teaching literacy in the New Zealand prison system in New Plymouth and teaching cultural programmes for the Taranaki Polytechnic (now WITT) at its Rangiatea campus.

“I’m a very strong believer and passionate in the belief in education for everybody.”

Her next role was as deputy principal at Opunake High School and then she spent five years as principal of Tamatea High school in the Hawke’s Bay.

In 2015, she took on the position of acting principal for a term at Patea Area School. “While they appointed a new principal, I fell in love with the students and stayed for three years.”

Nicola’s leadership liftedthe school’s morale and performance so much that in 2016, she was named Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year.

Now she is excited about being part of the TSB Community Trust because she sees it as a new challenge, is passionate about its strategic direction in innovation and education and believes she can add value as a Trustee.

“I’m a real strong believer in giving back to the community,” she says, emphasising her dedication to the younger generation.

“Why I get out of bed in the morning is to work with young people and being part of the journey in their lives.”

Wharehoka Wano was born and educated in Hawera, but his iwi affiliations are with Te Atiawa and Taranaki. “Parihaka is my turangawaewae.”

After school, Wharehoka went to Waikato University to gain a secondary school teaching degree. “It was the university that all the top Te Reo Maori lecturers, like Sam Karetu and all these big taniwha were. That was the start of the journey.”

He gained his degree in Te Reo Maori, but it wasn’t until he attended full-immersion programmes that he became fluent in the language he loves.

For eight years he taught at Whakatane High School and “met a fine eastern Bay (of Plenty) woman – Emere Collier – and dragged her back west”.

Both had a son each, and then they had another two children so brought up a whanau of four.

Son Rangiwahia, aged 32, has two children and another on the way, Kane, 29, has five tamariki, daughter Kerena, 25, is soon to have her first child and Awanui, is just 17.

In about 1992-93, Wharehoka came home to work at the Taranaki Polytechnic under the leadership of Te Ururoa Flavell, who went on to be co-leader of the Maori Party.

“Rangiatea was the Maori immersion place to be. We had the kohanga reo, the kura and Te Korimako (radio station) up there.”

At the time, Wharehoka was in his early 30s, had a young family and was coming into some leadership roles. “Through the ‘90s, I was very involved in that.”

But the Wano couple’s direction was soon to change. “We had a moan to Roger King about the Taranaki Arts Festival and lack of Maori content, so he gave us a job. And that’s been Em’s path that I’m very proud of.”

She is now the festival director of WOMAD NZ.

Before that, the pair created Tihi Ltd. Wharehoka’s role was through an education programme supporting teachers and Emere led the events side.

That included running Sounds Aotearoa before the annual World of Music Arts and Dance festival. “We were bringing in New Zealand artists as a showcase – we could put them in front of these international producers coming in for WOMAD.”

In 2016, Wharehoka was appointed general manager of the Taranaki Iwi. His role is as theCEO –Tumu Whakarito – of Te Kahui o Taranaki Trust, the iwi's post-settlement governance entity.

He’s also strongly involved in the cultural aspects of Parihaka, a kainga famous for its passive resistance stance in the face of land confiscations during the 1800s.

Wharehoka is regularly called on for powhiri events, including welcoming the WOMAD artists on to Owae Marae each year. He was involved in the opening of Puke Ariki, and welcomes international groups, visiting iwi and played a significant role when Prince Charles came to Taranaki in 2015.

“I had good grounding from Te Ru Wharehoka, my mum’s brother, from Aunty Marj Raumati and Whero Bailey – you got nurtured by those people,” he says, also naming Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru as another supportive kaumatua.

“I immersed myself in that generation and I feel the responsibility to nurture another generation.

“Those people I have mentioned have always been about serving the community – that’s what you do.”

He sees his new TSB Community Trustee role as an extension of that. “I will offer a tribal lens, but I also come with a background in education and I lead an organisation that has a significant commercial arm. So, I bring a skill set that could add value,” he says.

“In my tribal role I see the Community Trust as an important strategic relationship for all iwi of Taranaki and see the opportunity to have more of a partnership than a funder-receiver relationship.”

His interest in philanthropy and the innovation sector means he can see different ways of doing things in the wider community and is particularly interested in housing and other issues that are surfacing in the strategic plan. “I’m keen to get amongst that.”

When he’s not working and welcoming, you’ll find Wharehoka with his whanau or with a surfboard under his arm heading into te moana. “The way I like to look after my wairua (spirit) is being by the sea.”