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Guthrie Smith Trust Annual Report 2015

The focus of the Trust’s activities in 2015 continued to be around developing the attractiveness of the property as a place to visit, learn and appreciate all that it offers.

It was also the first full year of the management of the Education Centre via the Trust’s operating company and in all respects this has been a most successful move. The commitment of our Curator, George Christison and his wife Kirsty to achieve our objectives has been excellent and we are most grateful. Kirsty is now qualified to operate the High Ropes course and our focus is now on increasing the number of groups to the Centre outside of the school terms.  The schools Conservation Week led by HBRC and PanPac was very successful and will be led by the Trust in future with financial support of the parties involved. Our range of educational activities is being enhanced with the formation of an Action Group led by the Curator. A marketing project, based around our activities and objectives, by a student at E.I.T. was completed, however it just confirmed the directions we have adopted and need to pursue.

The France Hut flat area development mentioned last year was established in grass in the autumn and is now routinely mown and is an ideal picnic and activities space within the arboretum. Similarly we decided to develop the woolshed flat land to improve drainage and enhance the potential use of this area.

Several changes and improvements related to our two tenanted cottages were actioned during the year. “Barbara’s Cottage” beside our main drive became vacant and was refurbished for an improved tenancy. The “Cowman’s Cottage” was vacated and alterations were ongoing at year end to make it appealing to visitors on a book-a-bach basis in 2016. This has the potential for the Trust to derive a greater yield and the cottage has excellent views of the arboretum, Lake Tutira and the Park.

Of our buildings the Homestead remains an area of focus for us now particularly with the projected maintenance costs and the related funding necessary. All these projects and last year’s upgrading of the Education Centre have necessitated tremendous input from trustee David Belcher and Kirsty and we record our sincere thanks to them both.

To increase awareness of the property and with the approval of NZTA two major road signs have been erected north and south of the property. More permanent signage is planned for the Information Shelter following the latest photographing of the district by the HB Regional Council which will enable us to provide our visitors with a more informative map. Signs will also give information on the Maori history within the district and also information about the Hanger and QE11 Trust Covenant. Several Hastings District Councillors had a planned visit to the property and were very impressed with the progress that had been achieved and without support from the Council. Subsequently we were asked to present the story of the Trust and property to date, to a full Council meeting so that all Councillors were fully aware.  We still have much work ahead of us to raise the level of awareness of all we offer to both our local community and further afield. Nevertheless we are making progress and we have now also allocated space for self-contained campervans.

With trustee Chris Ryan’s guidance and input tree planting has continued. Chris also wrote an article on the development of the arboretum for a special edition of the Tree Cropper magazine. The trees within the arboretum of course become more substantial and striking every year and those who have visited are our best advocates.  Organising events is clearly a realistic way to economically promote the property.

Newly appointed trustee Bruce Wills unfortunately had to resign due to the pressure of other commitments. We were delighted to welcome Di Taylor with a strong educational background and experience as a trustee. Di was also previously a trustee of ECOED associated with Lake Opouahi.

The water quality of the Lake remains a concern for all in the community and toxic algal blooms influence the type of activities possible at times. We are in much closer contact with the Management of the Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust and are keen to work with them and the other stakeholders to effect improvement of the water quality. This will inevitably take some years.

Financially we were favourable to our budget which was for a cash deficit, however our investment portfolio has performed well albeit with lower yields of course and our equity has increased.

We are very reliant on the generous support of philanthropic organisations and sponsors and to all who support us we convey our most sincere thanks. We hope our progress and what we offer will inspire others to support us in developing further such a wonderful asset for all ages.

We wish to congratulate George and Kirsty for another year of absolute commitment and achievement – we are most fortunate to have such a capable team.

In conclusion and as always on behalf of the Trust I thank my fellow trustees and our administration for all their input and guidance and for their personal support throughout 2015.

David Allan