Thomas Cawthron Trust Amendment Bill now passed

29 June 2023

An iwi representative will officially join other local dignitaries on Cawthron Institute’s Trust Board under a law change that was passed by Parliament this week.

The Trust Board promoted the Thomas Cawthron Trust Amendment Bill which aimed to modernise the Thomas Cawthron Act 1924. The original Act saw the establishment of the Cawthron Institute Trust Board to govern Cawthron Institute. The amendment Bill will ensure the Trust Board is able to operate effectively and sustainably into the future.

The main amendment to the Act means that an additional Trust Board member is now able to be nominated by local iwi to join the Trust Board. This iwi representative will join the other statutory Trust Board members – the MP for Nelson, the Mayor of Nelson, the Mayor of Tasman, and the Anglican Bishop of Nelson.

Cawthron Institute Trust Board Chair John Palmer says amending the Act to allow Te Tauihu iwi to nominate a representative is a significant step forward. The original Act was intended to have a diverse community voice at the Trust Board table. The addition of a local Iwi voice, for a science organisation focused on critical environment problems and opportunities is a logical step to remaining relevant.

“We are delighted this Bill has now passed and the Thomas Cawthron Act can be amended. Modernising this nearly 100-year-old Act means the Trust Board can now operate without needing to seek regular High Court or Parliamentary approval for simple administration decisions”.

“As Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation focused on delivering world-class ocean and freshwater research, it is absolutely appropriate that we have iwi representation at governance level to ensure our science priorities are helping to deliver solutions that support the aspirations of Māori; and that we are bringing indigenous knowledge together with western science to create the greatest impact for all.”

Te Tauihu Iwi Forum Presiding Chair Rachael Hatē says the amendment of the Thomas Cawthron Act to allow for iwi representation has been welcomed by the eight iwi represented at the Top of the South Island.

“On behalf of ngā iwi o Te Tauihu, we welcome this law change which will bring a Te Tauihu iwi-nominated member to the Trust Board. The amendment allows for the interests of ngā iwi o Te Tauihu to be formally recognised at the Trust’s governance table as well as updating and modernising the governance arrangements of the Trust Board.”

Other amendments to the Act include:

(a) clearly articulating the objects of the Trust Board and the powers conferred on the Trust Board to advance those objects;
(b) specifying the legal liability of the members of the Trust Board; and
(c) updating and modernising the governance arrangements of the Trust Board, and consolidating and revising other aspects of the governance and administration of the Trust Board.

Palmer said the passing of the Bill represented significant effort from many. “I’d like to thank fellow Trustee and Nelson MP Rachel Boyack for guiding this Bill through its readings and Select Committee hearings, with the unanimous support of the Board”.

The Thomas Cawthron Trust Amendment Bill (No 2) can be found on the Parliament website

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