2017 was a most successful year for the Trust in all respects and significantly it generated a positive net cash flow from operations. This is the first time this has been achievable for at least 20 years and it is also relevant to note that over $1 million has now been invested to date in establishing the arboretum and related assets. We have maintained consistent progress in improving and maintaining the quality and standard of our principal assets (arboretum, buildings and facilities) and importantly again without diminishing the value of our investment portfolio.The Education Centre has reached the point where it is at capacity for school term bookings and we are now encouraging other potential users (e.g. weddings, functions, corporates) to use the centre, arboretum and other facilities as suit their purposes. The canoes used by schools have all been replaced, an implement shed is to be converted into a climbing wall facility for wet weather activities in particular and the high ropes course and its related equipment have all been upgraded. All these improvements and the upgrading of the centre itself have been recognised and appreciated by schools and is adding to the appeal of the facility. The Centre is the major source of income to meet our operational costs.
A sheltered public barbeque together with a nearby shelter covering two picnic tables was consented and will be operational in mid-April 2018. An unsightly overhead powerline crossing over this area will now go underground and the site has a spectacular view over the arboretum, Lake Tutira and Tutira Country Park. We are extremely grateful to the Frimley Foundation and the Hastings District Council who together enabled this development which will be a further attraction for visitors. This area is also suitable for use by visitors arriving by campervan.
Bookings for the Cowman’s Cottage that was refurbished successfully last year to establish a Book-a-Bach basis of renting, is proving extremely popular and is now also a significant contributor to the Trust’s income.
A recording camera-based security system has been installed on the property.
The trustees decided to cease the Friends subscription model as we no longer charge for visiting and seek voluntary donations in lieu. The cost of administering the Friends scheme with membership cards and mailings were prohibitive. Emailing and social media are of course far more prevalent and effective for all involved. Donations can be made on site are by way of secure donation boxes.
The trees in the arboretum are flourishing and increasingly dominate their planted areas. We are now progressing from the intense planting phases to management of the trees with the associated pruning and thinning work.
The arboretum is now incorporated far more into school activities and provides significant educational benefits. In conjunction with the HB Regional Council and Pan Pac we run the Conservation Week programme for the schools involved.
The trustees remain ever mindful and committed to the importance of Health and Safety however the related audit and training costs associated with some of our activities are substantial and potentially threaten the viability of offering them.
We are continuing to participate with and to support Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust and the HB Regional Council in all endeavours to significantly improve the water quality of Lake Tutira. We are hopeful that together we may encourage significant support from central government to effect such improvements.
With growing public awareness of the many threats to our lakes and rivers, pollution, and the public health of our society the ability to protect and enjoy our environment is an area of increased focus and research by the community. The Trust strives to provide the appropriate resources to educate, support and highlight the need, importance and relevance of so many related aspects.
Again throughout the year the Trust as a signatory to the Hawkes Bay Biodiversity Strategy has been regularly involved with the Implementation Planning Group. As mentioned last year “Tutira” represents a very wide spectrum of bio-diversity and the property and our facilities are an excellent base for educational purposes in support of the Regional Council’s strategy. David Allan and Michael Halliday (Trustees) have been involved as two of the interim trustees of the HB Biodiversity Trust and will cease in June pending the appointment of ongoing trustees.
While usage of both the Education Centre and of the Cowman’s cottage is very pleasing we still have to generate more awareness of the arboretum’s features to attract more Sunday visitors. Following the change to the operation of our Friends group, more emphasis is now being placed on effective social media communication and importantly the means to keep that communication regular, dynamic, interesting and motivating. This may of necessity involve a service provider.
All that we are able to achieve in enhancing what we offer for educational purposes and for the public’s enjoyment is only possible through the generous support of philanthropic organisations, charitable trusts, sponsors and supporters. Again to them all we record our most sincere thanks for their encouraging and enabling support.
While the enabling financial support is of course critical for us, so too is the ability to implement and deliver effectively the outcomes the trust aims for. We are extremely fortunate that our Curator George Christison and his wife Kirsty have the skills, commitment and energy to successfully and reliably do so. Once again we record a huge thank you to them both.
As always, in conclusion and on behalf of the Trust I thank my fellow trustees and our administration team for their respective expertise, commitment, teamwork and guidance and especially for their personal support.
David Allan, Chairman