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Horowhenua District

                   Horowhenua NZ Trust 
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                          2019 Local Government Elections ( 12th of October 2019 )
                          for more information , go to the Horowhenua District Council's website here

Horowhenua Residents and Ratepayers Association  on Facebook  November 2018 

Hokio Progressive Association Inc rose.cotter@clear.net.nz  

Waitarere Beach Progressive and Ratepayers Association Inc  http://www.waitarerecoast.co.nz/  sue.ellis@hersolutions.co.nz

Manakau District Community Association http://www.manakau.co.nz/

Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association https://waikawabeach.org.nz/wbra.committee@gmail.com

Tokomaru Village and Community Association  on Facebook TVACAChairperson@gmail.com / http://www.tokomaruvillage.com/   November 2018

Shannon Progressive Association Inc  : owlcatraz@xtra.co.nz 

Mangaore Village : chairman@mangaore.org.nz;treasurer@mangaore.org.nz; 06-362-7372 and 027-445-1251

19 November 2019

Public interest should be high when the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust holds its first Annual General Meeting considering at least $10 million of ratepayer funds and public land has already been transferred to the charitable trust by Horowhenua District Council.

The meeting being held at 5.30pm on 21 November at Te Takere community and cultural center in Levin will be the first opportunity for residents to question the trust about how ratepayer funds are being used to support the fundamental charitable aims of the trust to return benefits to the community.

The trust deed states the financial report must also disclose initial capital, opening and closing income, distribution fund (if any), the investment fund, the members of the advisory board, the investment advisors and the fund manager(s).

A July 2017 Council report to the now defunct strategy committee said the trust is expected to be involved in managing, "local projects" such as the Levin Town Centre Strategy, the provision of water infrastructure and resources, and an extensive amount of residential, commercial and industrial construction projects.

The six self appointed trustees include chair Cameron Lewis, deputy chair Antony Young, Evan Kroll, Andrew Wynn, Ron Turk and Larry Ellison.

All six are former board members of the Council's quietly dis-established Economic Development Board which recommended an "investment vehicle" be established to drive economic development in the district.

The trust deed refers to “self-interested dealings” only excluding trustees from taking part in deliberations on matters they have a conflict with but trustees, "are not excluded from being associated with any person, company or body with which the Trust enters into a contract or other agreement.”

A trustee also, “may be employed in any such business carried on by the Trust or in which the Trust is interested and may act as director or officer of any company or body in which the Trust may have an interest.”

The trust, established without any assets and a ten dollar starter donation, will be funded by ratepayer, government and private equity, although how much each party contributes is not known.

A breakdown of known ratepayer funds and assets already transferred to the charitable trust includes three years of economic development funding, even though only one year's funding has been budgeted for in the Council's Annual Plan.

According to Council's 20 year Long Term Plan three years of economic development funding equates to almost $3 million.

The trust has also been contracted by the Council to provide the Electra sponsored Business After 5 (BA5) events, and the Quarterly Economic Update, although the amount of funding transferred for these services is not known.

On 27 February 2019 Council's chief financial officer Doug Law told the Finance, Audit and Risk sub committee that economic development services were "outsourced" in early October 2018 - four months after the trust was established - and a "six month payment had been made."

Late last year Horowhenua District Council announced that up to 40 percent of public assets worth an estimated $28 million, would be transferred to the trust as "seed capital."

The council's former economic development manager Shanon Grainger said examples of public assets to be transferred include commercial/industrial buildings and land, rural leases (grazing land), land purchased for infrastructure projects and "so forth."

Mr Grainger left his position with the Council and seamlessly moved into the role of chief executive for the profit making arm of the trust called The Horowhenua Company.

Charitable trusts can and do establish profit making arms to attract private equity.

Despite questioning it is still unclear whether ratepayers are paying Mr Grainger's salary to be the chief executive of the profit making arm of the trust.

It is also not known whether Mr Grainger is also responsible for achieving the charitable aims of the trust, or whether Mr Grainger has any skills or qualifications in the charity sector. Also not known is whether Mr Grainger's role was publicly advertised or not.

The trust is also required to publish a summary of the annual report in Horowhenua newspapers, but a summary has not been published yet.

The annual report must also be available from the office of the trust and available on the trust's website www.hnzt.org.nz

Mr Grainger said the trust does not have a physical office. Cullinane Steele Lawyers in Levin is the physical address included on the trust's website.

Questions have been forwarded to the trust asking whether copies of the annual report will be available before the public meeting to allow the public time to digest the information.