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Pūkaha announces new board appointments

Mount Bruce, Masterton: Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre is pleased to announce the appointment of two new members to its board; Moira Paewai and Murray McKee. Both are expected to bring a wealth of high-level business experience and strengthen what is already a stellar business team.

The appointments come after long-term board members Kate Clark (NZTA) and Duncan Fletcher (PGG Wrightson) made the difficult decision to step down at this year’s AGM held on November the 18th, creating two new vacancies. Current board Chairman, Bob Francis, is delighted with the appointments, saying, “Pūkaha is poised to really take off in 2020 and the continuation of strong governance through this period of growth is essential”.

Moira Paewai is a Dannevirke local and director in chartered accountancy firm MCI & associates. As well as being a successful accountant, businesswoman and professional trustee, she is also a passionate contributor to the Tararua community. While bringing up her family she was the chair of the board of Trustees for Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tāmaki Nui a Rua as well as president of the Dannevirke tennis club and president of the Dannevirke toy library. Mrs Paewai said she is absolutely thrilled to be joining the board, “I’m a passionate supporter of conservation and absolutely love Pūkaha. I have visited there regularly as a child, mother and now grandmother so it is very special to me. It’s a huge honour and a privilege and I look forward to being supportive of the board, management and wider Pukaha community”.

Murray McKee is based in Greytown and has an extensive career in Oil & Gas and the New Zealand Fire Service. His conservation credentials include Chair of the New Zealand National Parks Foundation and Ministerial Appointee to the West Coast Conservation Board (2 terms) and the Tongariro-Taupo Board (2 terms). He is also a founding trustee of the Pūkaha to Palliser Trust (2019 – current). Mr Mckee said he was also excited and very honoured to be joining the board, and that he would like to continue the strong work of his predecessors. “They’ve created a real taonga and looking after it and taking it forward will be a great privilege and a real challenge. It’s a huge responsibility because looking after and protecting our flora and fauna for future generations is so important”.

The voluntary governance roles were advertised in both the Wairarapa and the Tararua regions as well as via the Institute of Directors. A large number of high calibre applications, from both inside and outside of the regions were received and the new members were appointed following a robust process. General Manager at Pūkaha Emily Court said, “The increasing awareness of the importance of conservation efforts for New Zealand’s future, along with Pūkaha’s growing reputation has contributed to the high interest in these roles. There are some incredible people out there who have had very successful careers all over the world and are now looking at ways that they can give back to the community and to New Zealand”.

One remaining position on the board is yet to be filled. The additional vacancy was created when Clive Patton of Martinborough winery, Ata Rangi, retired from the board earlier in the year. Ms Court said, “The board will continue to search for a director to fill this seat, ideally someone with extensive tourism or education sector experience due to the ambitious growth targets and plans that have recently been approved by the board”. She refers to the recent announcement of a significant Environment and Ecology Educational project that aims to kick-off in early 2020 and to the rapidly growing visitor numbers that the centre has been experiencing. The new build would follow the handover of the reserve to local iwi Rangitāne o Wairarapa that is scheduled to take place in February 2020. Ms Court said that all board members - existing and new - are positive about the future of this local taonga and look forward to working together.

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