Ratahi Cross
IOD Member - Chairperson

Ratahi Cross has been a trustee since 2007. He has a background in natural science, specialising in native flora and fauna. He holds a science qualification and lectured in Māori history for several tribes in his role at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Ratahi is the chairman of several trust boards throughout the eastern areas of the North Island. He is currently the chairperson of Ngāi Tukairangi Trust. Ratahi is also the chairperson of Te Awanui Hukapak Ltd, a director on Seeka Ltd, a public company and he is also part of the Business Board for the Federation of Māori Authorities.

Neil Te Kani
IOD Member - Deputy Chairperson

Neil Te Kani has been a trustee since 2003. He has a wealth of kiwifruit industry experience and takes his role as trustee very seriously. Neil is a trustee on several other boards, including Mangatawa Incorporation, Ranginui 12, Tukairangi Investments Ltd., and Orea Trust. He previously served as a delegate for New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated and Māori Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated.

He is currently employed by Seeka Industries Ltd. to advance closer working relationships with Māori kiwifruit growers throughout the industry. He held a similar role prior to that at Eastpack, and before that, he was also the executive director of Te Awanui Hukapak Ltd. Neil has led several Māori export delegations with Zespri International Ltd. to Europe and Asia.

Helen Te Kani
IOD Member

Helen has been a trustee since 2014. She brings a wealth of experience having worked in the health and social sector, and tertiary education sector. Helen currently works in the housing and urban development space where she supports the most vulnerable and at risk from being homeless.

Helen has strong leadership skills and continues to gain strategic, decisive, and analytical expertise. She brings experience in project management, whānau, hapū and community engagement and she is an active whānau member of Hungahungatoroa Marae.

Helen is the chairperson of the Distributions and Grants Committee, the Ngāi Tukairangi hapū representative of the Tauranga Moana Trust Board, a director of the Tauranga Moana Miro GP, trustee of Hungahungatoroa 1B2B2 Trust, chairperson of Hungahungatoroa Marae and is an active member of the Institute of Directors. This year, Helen is on a journey to advancing her skills in Te Reo Māori.

IOD Member | Bachelor of Social Sciences

Helen Ellis was elected as trustee in 2021. She has a professional background in the health and disability, and community support sectors. She holds qualifications in mental health and addictions, public health, social sciences, and business administration. With over 35 years of trustee experience as an elected school board officer, Helen has been a trustee for Hungahungatoroa 1B2B2 Trust in Matapihi for more than twenty years.

Currently employed as the community response coordinator for Whaioranga Trust, Helen fulfils a dual social work role, also serving as a program facilitator in the mental health and addictions field. Her extensive professional and practitioner experience spans both kaupapa Māori and mainstream services. Helen is dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for our board, embodying the values of tika, pono, and aroha. Her commitment to whānau, marae, hapū, and iwi demonstrates a strong community focus. Helen is an active member of the Education and Grants Committee.

Joshua Gear
IOD Member | Bachelor of Laws (Hons)

Joshua was elected to the Trust in 2013. In addition to his role as trustee, he also holds governance roles as a director on several Ngāi Te Rangi iwi corporate entities.

Professionally, Joshua has practiced as a barrister and solicitor since 2008, specialising in resource management, local government, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and Te Ture Whenua Māori.

Raised in Matapihi, Joshua has strong ancestral ties to various marae. His whakapapa connects him to Hungahungatoroa Marae through his koroua, Pōtahi Gear; to Waikari Marae through his koroua and kuia, Pōtahi and Eileen Gear; and to Whareroa Marae through both his kuia, Merania Nepia and Eileen Gear.

James Lambert
IOD Member | Bachelor of Commerce

James was elected as a trustee in 2019. He currently serves as the operations manager of a family-owned packaging company in Auckland, bringing managerial and operational experience from various roles in the retail sector to his trustee position.

Having completed a course in trustee training through the Māori Land Court, James is eager to expand his knowledge of governance within the Trust and build upon the impressive foundational work of previous trustees. He takes pride in the continued economic and cultural success of our Trust.

James has contributed his expertise to the Finance Committee and the Grants Committee, and he currently chairs the Audit and Risk Committee.

IOD Member | Master's of Social Science

Parewhati was elected as a trustee in 2023 and holds key leadership roles guiding the strategic direction of several high-value horticulture businesses.

Her journey began as a student at Tauranga Girls College, where Parewhati worked picking kiwifruit for the very business she now strategically governs. With support from this same business, she graduated from the University of Waikato in 1999 with a Master’s in Social Science. Subsequently, Parewhati spent four years living in Japan, serving as an ESL Teacher.

Over the past 20 years, Parewhati has built a diverse workforce background spanning aviation hospitality, creativity, education, stevedoring, and parliamentary service. She currently leads Ōngare Trust, dedicated to ensuring inter-generational prosperity, believing that prosperity should be accessible to all with the right support and investment from the government.

Parewhati’s involvement in politics is evident as she recently stood for the Labour seat in the Bay of Plenty region, bringing her political finesse to the trust.