From Building Papakainga To Relationships – Meet Geoff Rolleston

(Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu, Ngai te Rangi, Te Whānau o Tauwhao ki Rangiwaea)

“Te Arawa can bring to the table the economic power-house to the local economy, as the biggest ratepayers in town we have a right to sit alongside this council and we need to exercise our rights respectfully and harmoniously.”

When you take the time to sit down with Geoff it quickly becomes clear he has big plans for the iwi he represents. Having started his career at the Waipa Mill when he was 18, you’ll also get a sense of his ability to relate to and connect with whanau from all walks of life. As he reflects on his work history he says the 13 years spent in the forestry industry is just one of his many career highlights.

“It was a great learning period, I got to learn everything there was to know about timber processing and sawmilling. There’s much to gain from the first-hand experience that will equip you well in your career aspirations”

Throughout his career in forestry Geoff went on to take up a number of managerial roles in Placemakers before eventually setting up his own business successfully moving into wholesale timbering.

In 2006 he changed direction and took up roles with his iwi in Tauranga where he was involved in fisheries, forestry, managing the development of papakainga, working on new ventures such as Tauwaho Te Ngahere, as well as being appointed as a trustee to Ranginui 12.
“The dynamics involved with working for iwi were both challenging and rewarding especially being able to help whanau to build themselves up and grow. The opportunity to awhi and support our iwi businesses has been really rewarding.”

After his time working in Tauranga Moana, Geoff returned to Rotorua where he was born and raised almost 4 years ago and began tutoring with the construction trade training unit and was also appointed to the Ngāti Whakaue Tribal Lands Board.

It was this same board that put Geoff forward to the Te Tatau o Te Arawa Board.

“The true effect of our representation is starting to have an effect, we had a slow start but we’re making noise ensuring that everyone knows this is what we want to do and can do.”

“Ultimately the growth of our city needs to happen with so many things being considered, things need to be done in harmony and I think that’s our role not only to be the kaitiaki over what council does but also to be a partner to make things happen and give the cultural integrity to the way things develop in our city.”