Champion for change

Iwi roles facilitate connections to taiao, whanau

Kāhu ki Rotorua





Roimata Mihinui Kerri Anne Hancock is driven by the desire to champion change for her whānau, hapū and iwi. As Tauwharenga (General Manager) of Rotoiti 15 Trust, one of the largest ahuwhenua Trusts in Aotearoa, she is in a prime position to make that happen. She has been on this pathway since 2005, learning the ropes from Tai Taitoko at the Maori Trustee and spent some time with the whānau of the Maori Land Court - Waiariki. “As you can imagine it’s beautiful to be able to come full circle and serve our people in my role at the Rotoiti 15 Trust. “Over the last 17 years I have also spent time working in Treaty Settlement Negotiations for the Crown as well as for my iwi Ngāti Whakaue and running my own consultancy company — all which taught me what I need to know to fulfil my role for the trust – but believe me, I am learning more every day.” Rotoiti 15 Trust was formed in 1971 following the amalgamation of several land blocks derived from Ngāti Tarawhai, Ngāti Rongomai and some Ngāti Pikiao hapū lands, as well as land received from an exchange with the Crown. Today the Trustees care for 8400ha on behalf of more than 16,000 shareholders and their beneficiaries.the vision is: ‘ Kia hihiri te ōhanga, te oranga me te pukumahi i runga i te ngākau ngātahi’ – “Working together to protect and grow the wellbeing of our people, environment and culture” Kerri Anne (nee Rogers) 37, attended St Michaels School and John Paul College. She has hononga to Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Ngāti Tarawhai as well as Whakaue. She and husband Michael Hancock (Te Arawa, Ngaiterangi, Ngāpuhi) have three children, Maraea, 8, Justin, 6, and Te Waere, 3. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Māori and Psychology from the University of Auckland and there has been constant training throughout her journey. “My driver has always been whether the tūranga I hold allow for me to champion change for my whānau, hapū and iwi more so than the specific job titles. I’ve always found that serving in iwi roles has created pathways for me to grow my connections to my whenua, taiao and wider whānau.” Kerri Anne began learning te reo at university as many of her generation a second-language learner, it is important to Kerri Anne that their tamariki have te reo Māori as their first language and follow their Pāpā’s footsteps in Māori medium education and are immersed in te reo within their home. “On a professional level I have been honoured to work on important kaupapa such as Rotorua Reorua and Aotearoa Reorua as well as running a bi-lingual business in my role as the GM for Rotoiti 15 Trust. “I look forward to the day that our tamariki mokopuna can see hear feel and converse in te reo in public spaces where our reo is raised in status alongside te reo Pākeha.” From a Trust perspective, Kerri Anne salutes as incredible the actions of the whānau, hapū and iwi in amalgamating the whenua to protect it and leverage the strength of the collective. “From the original trustees in 1971 to today, so many of our whānau have contributed their aroha for the whenua to building the Trust to be where it is today.” Her vision for the future is clearcut. For Kerri Anne, our tamariki Mokopuna are our ultimate succession plan. “All decisions we make are Mokopuna Decisions – intergenerational decisions that allow us to make courageous decisions for our people.” Of her own career, Kerri Anne says she is more of a worker in the background than front of house. “I was lucky enough to receive an Emerging Leaders award in 2019 with the Westpac Rotorua Business Awards. In 2021, the Rotoiti 15 Trust received the Tompkins Wake Bilingual Business Award and was a finalist in the Not-for-profit section as well.