March 11, 2021
Whakatohea’s gentle leader revives town
Te Whakatōhea leader Robert Edwards says he feels honoured and humbled to be a finalist for the Kiwibank Senior New Zealander of the Year award.
The Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board chair was nominated by Ōpōtiki District mayor, Lyn Riesterer, who describes him as a gentle leader, who leads by example, maintains his vision and takes his people along with him.
Mr Edwards says when he came back to Ōpōtiki in 2000 the town was economically depressed and the tribe was in disarray after a failed treaty settlement negotiation.
It’s taken a lot of work by a lot of people to get the town and the tribe to where it is today, on the verge of finally receiving a $100 million settlement for historic claims.
"What I have already received to date I gladly accept on behalf of the many people who held rejuvenating Ōpōtiki, building our mussel farm, building a mussel factory, building a harbour entrance, and creating worthwhile employment for over 150 to 200 people," Mr Edwards says.
Winners will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Awards Gala Dinner in Auckland on 31 March.
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