The majority trustees of the Omapere Rangihamama Trust, Bruce Cutforth (Interim Chair) and Colleen Bermingham-Brown, consider that they are required to respond to the memorandum written by Rachel Witana dated 5 October 2021 (“Memo”) which has recently been circulated, including via publication on Facebook. The Memo contains a number of spurious allegations and factual errors, including in relation to the upcoming AGM and the nomination process for the trustee elections.
The majority trustees want to reassure the beneficial owners of the Trust that the normal election process for election of Trustees continues. The upcoming AGM will take place once a final date can be set, subject to the health & safety requirements set by the Government to deal with the current Covid-19 outbreak. If you have any concerns with the election process, please feel free to contact either of the majority trustees.
The following sets out a correction of the information contained in the Memo:
Bruce Cutforth is currently the Interim Chair, as agreed by the majority of the remaining trustees, in accordance with the Trust Order, and as recognised by the Maori Land Court. Rachel Witana has also previously engaged with Bruce Cutforth in his capacity as Interim Chair.
Rachel Witana is holding herself as Chairperson. No Trustee can self-appoint themselves to the role of Chair, in this Trust or any similar organisation. Rachel Witana is not the Chair of the Trust.
Trustees holding office
The question of the right of a trustee to continue acting following expressing an intention to step down or resign from that position is currently pending a decision of the Maori Land Court. It is the position of the majority trustees that a trustee merely stating an intention to step down does not disqualify them from continuing to act as a trustee and it does not remove their mana to carry out that role. All Trustees remain legally Responsible Trustees until the Maori Land Court formally removes them in accordance with the Te Ture Whenua Maori Land Act. All trustees are required to carry out their duties in accordance with the Trust Order until they are formally removed. The trustees still holding office at present are Bruce Cutforth, Colleen Bermingham-Brown and Rachel Witana.
Colleen Bermingham-Brown is not in a “holding position” awaiting removal by the Court. She has not resigned as a trustee, and she continues to exercise the powers and duties of a trustee.
Postponement of the AGM
The decision to postpone the AGM, until it is safe to meet under the current Covid-19 outbreak and associated restrictions, is necessary to protect people attending the AGM and their whanau. The intention is to have an AGM as soon as the current restrictions allow. We can only try to set a date but are unable to control when we will be at Alert Level 1 to enable full attendance at the AGM. Please monitor the Trust’s website for further information on the planned AGM date. Once we are able to set a date with more certainty, then the date will again be advertised in the newspapers.
Nominations for Trustee positions
The Trust has followed the normal process for the submission of Trustee nominations has been followed with the exception of extending the period to submit the nomination forms, due to Covid-19 restrictions. Level 4 lockdown restrictions prevented people from delivering or posting nominations and visiting other shareholders to obtain their signatures to second their nominations. The period to submit nominations was extended to allow that to happen once the Level 4 restrictions were lifted.
As advertised the date for submitting nominations closes at 5.00 pm, 15 October 2021. If you intend to submit a nomination, please ensure it is in by the deadline.
As noted on the nomination form, each nomination has to be completed correctly and submitted either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by post or delivered to the Trust Office, as they have always been. The Trust remains in control of that email address contrary to any assertions made by Rachel Witana.
Please do not send your nomination forms to Rachel Witana but email, post or deliver them to the Trust. Any nominations sent only to Rachel Witana will unfortunately be invalid.
Number of trustees for election at the next AGM
All 7 trustee positions are to be elected at the upcoming AGM. In accordance with Clause 5.1.1 (b) and (f) of the Trust Order, all trustees must retire after 4 years but can stand again to be re-elected. This process applies to Rachel Witana. A Trustee in this situation is not automatically re-appointed but must be elected to the position again at the AGM.
Maori Land Court applications
A number of applications involving the Trust and its trustees are currently before the Maori Land Court. Urgent hearing of these applications has been sought by all parties. We are awaiting a decision on one hearing and a date for an urgent hearing on the remaining applications. Some of the matters raised by Rachel Witana in the document posted on Facebook are the subject of these applications to the Maori Land Court. It is not appropriate for the majority of trustees to respond via Facebook to the matters that are already before the Maori Land Court.
If you have any questions please contact the Trust office which is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9.00 am to midday or email email@example.com.
Bruce Cutforth & Colleen Bermingham-Brown