Story by Sonya Bloomfield
Hunter, Gatherer, Father and making a massive difference to Maori and Iwi in Northland.
A couple of weeks ago I was talking about the Kumara Vine project to a friend of mine. She exclaimed and said “you need to tell Craig about this”. An introduction over coffee happened a week later and Craig and I reconnected over the phone this morning to find out a little bit more about why he is doing what he is doing.
Craig grew up in Kaitaia. He wasn’t necessarily “connected” with his iwi back home, but his grandparents, who were both Maori, had a reasonable influence on his upbringing and culture. It was in the way that they did things that wasn’t necessarily defined as Maori culture it was just the way they were, it seemed more normal instead of it being a part of our culture. It was always normal, it was never: this is the Maori way and this is the Pakeha way. It wasn’t a heavy influence, but it was enough. There wasn’t really any connection back to my iwi because at the time the local Marae had been destroyed by a storm and it was never rebuilt. The presence there wasn’t very strong and it still isn’t to this day, although, there are plans to rebuild the Marae in the future.
Since 2001 he’s been a Director at Sumpter Baughen and prior to that was travelling overseas for a couple of years before doing a stint in the South Island. Over the last few years he has spent more and more time helping Maori Business and doing iwi related work. There’s a lot of history in Northland of poor advice being given, so when he can give good advice about governance and financial management of their trusts he can see it making a difference on a personal level as well as a commercial level. Craig went on to say that people were always looking for good solid advice so the fact that he can offer assistance is great; it’s just one cog in the machine when looking at the big picture.
Craig was recently appointed by the Maori land court to a large forestry trust in the Hokianga to look after their governance and financial issues. They had had a history of good governance over 20 years or so, then a few okay years and then 2 years of poor governance. This left a huge hole in the business and he and others have spent the last couple of years with a lot of blood sweat and tears getting the trust back in order. They have just harvested in the forest this month which means exciting times for the trust and for shareholder wealth. Craig gets immense satisfaction out of this and he likes that he makes a real difference and he gets to see the difference that advice makes.
On a personal level, he’s a family man. He has his kids and growing up in the far north they like to be outdoors a lot; hunting, fishing and diving. Craig grew up on a farm and he thinks that growing up in a farming environment gives you a really good work ethic. You never expect other people to come along and do a job for you. If you want something done, then you have to get off your bum and do it yourself - a key value that his parents instilled in him.