Throughout 2014 the Trust continued its focus on upgrading our key resources and ensuring the integrity of our operations to support growth of both school and public visitors, following our seasonal opening to the public from late 2013.
A new Health and Safety Manual was completed thanks to a major level of input by trustee Terry Taaffe and Curator George Christison. This manual’s procedures ensure we meet the upgraded standards for outdoor activities in particular. A significant investment was committed to the High Ropes Course and we were delighted to receive Outdoors Mark accreditation. We understand this is now the only High Ropes course in Hawkes Bay.
Our important water supply enhancements were completed early in the year. The Education Centre was substantially repainted inside, curtains and furniture replaced and the driveway upgraded. Aside from improved appearance these improvements have in turn generated a greater level of care and respect from the users.
As reported last year the Trust’s charitable company now manages the operations of the Education Centre and Arboretum. It is very pleasing to report that this change has proved successful with the numbers of students and others using the Education Centre steadily growing. The change was implemented smoothly and the progress still being achieved is a reflection of the commitment of both our Curator George Christison and his wife Kirsty.
Following the Trust and Company restructure we were delighted to welcome in October Bruce Wills, a former President of Federated Farmers as a Trustee and Wendy Rakete-Stones as Administrator. The administrative change was solely related to the costs involved for both us and our accountants BWR who have supported us in many ways – and in particular Teressa Burton. A Governance Manual for the Trust was developed and adopted and this will assist the induction of new trustees in future.
The hill face behind the homestead known as the Hanger, with over a century’s growth of regenerated native bush, is now covenanted in perpetuity under the QE ll Trust. An architect (Graham Linwood) has prepared a comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Homestead which was facilitated by a Lotteries Commission grant.
The website and its related database has proved a cost effective means of communication with Friends. A plastic membership card has been introduced to facilitate identification of Friends wishing to visit at any time, subject only to Curator approval. We developed a multi-purpose Power Point presentation resource for Trustees to use for speaking engagements. We held a Teachers Open Day to promote our offering to schools however the response was disappointing and a direct approach to targeted schools is now our strategy.
The previous successful association with EIT for design students has led to a marketing degree project for a student in 2015. The outcome of this will be available to us mid-2015.
The arboretum planting, development, labelling, digital and photographic recording is of course a major and ongoing project. There can be no doubt that a unique and particularly valuable resource is established and being continually enhanced. The significance of all the planning and effort is annually highlighted by the growing stature of the trees. Our thanks to George Christison and trustees Chris Ryan and David Belcher and those who have supported them with arboretum activities this year. We have decided to align the drain, trap sediment from the catchment and simultaneously cultivate and grass the flat land around France Hut. Financial assistance from the HB Regional Council facilitated this decision. The flat area will in future be mown and be an attractive area for visitors to picnic and be suitable for many potential events and activities.
Apart from investment in matters already mentioned we purchased a much larger and more appropriate mower for the arboretum tracks etc. to achieve major cost savings. The support of Norwoods and Kubota in enabling us to do this was superb and is gratefully acknowledged. We have also purchased radios for better communication and safety of visitors and our Curator around the property.
We continue to receive generous support from benefactors and as highlighted in previous years, this support is critical to our wellbeing. We are extremely grateful to the individuals, trusts and organisations that support us and record our most sincere thanks.
There is increasing collaboration with our neighbouring organisations to develop efficiently what the Tutira district has to offer which is pleasing.
Following what has now been established our focus for 2015 is to promote awareness and use of all our resources, to maximize the potential revenue streams identified. We will review the skills we have and need and pursue recruitment of them, while we continue successful development of our unique regional and national asset.
We are very fortunate that George Christison and his wife Kirsty are able to manage so competently all aspects associated with the property. Once again our thanks to them both for the progress achieved.
We certainly have a dedicated team of trustees and on behalf of the Trust, I thank them for all they have contributed in 2014 and for their total support personally.