Chief Executive Officer, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Arihia Bennett MNZM (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi) is the Chief Executive Officer of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, a $1.6 billion iwi entity that serves to protect and advance the collective interests of over 65,000 tribal members. In keeping with the tribal whakataukī (proverb) mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – for us and our children after us, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu delivers a range of programmes and initiatives designed to create intergenerational wellbeing for all Ngāi Tahu whānau. These opportunities are made possible by the diverse commercial activities of the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, which has a portfolio of investments in farming, seafood, mānuka honey, property and tourism. China is a key market for several of these businesses and under Arihia’s leadership, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has continued to build positive and enduring relationships in China based on shared values such as whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga.
Arihia has been in this position since 2012 after serving as Chief Executive Officer of He Oranga Pounamu, the iwi-mandated organisation responsible for health and social services in Te Waipounamu. As well as an established career in social services, Arihia has extensive experience in the tourism industry as the former Milford Sound Branch Manager of Fiordland Travel (now Real Journeys), a major South Island tourism company; and General Manager of O Tapara Lodge in Fiordland National Park, during which time she was appointed to the New Zealand Māori Tourism Board. These roles gave Arihia a solid understanding of the tourism market in China that continues to serve her today.
Arihia has also held a number of advisory roles and directorships, including being appointed as Commissioner of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission until the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority was established, after which she joined the Chief Executives Advisory Group for the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy. Arihia also served as a director of the Ngāi Tahu Development Corporation from 1999 to 2002, and chair from 2002 to 2005. She is a member of Global Women, the Tuahiwi Māori Women’s Welfare League and an alumna of Te Hono Movement (a partnership helping to drive the success of the New Zealand primary industry). She has also previously been on the board of Barnardos NZ and the former Christchurch Women’s Refuge. In 2008 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and the community.