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Wellbeing purpose . . . at this time

Opinion Piece

“Along with good governance and executive level experience, it will also be imperative you can relate to ECT (the owners of Eastland Group), and their community purpose which is centred around delivering wellbeing gains throughout Tairawhiti region.”

That is an interesting line to end the advertisement for three Eastland Group directors, in Saturday’s Gisborne Herald classifieds section.

Eastland Group governance and management have traditionally held themselves aloft from such community-mindedness, to focus on their corporate responsibilities to the district in developing and running an efficient and profitable port and electricity network, and an efficient airport.

And its owner on our behalf, Eastland Community Trust, has only just made wellbeing gains a central focus — up until a year or so ago the trust was focused on the second purpose outlined in its trust deed (after an electricity provision purpose, related to the roots of the trust):

“Supporting business, community and other initiatives which in the opinion of the Trustees are likely to encourage or sustain economic growth within the district that is or may be directly or indirectly for the benefit of the beneficiaries.”

The preamble, however, is an instruction to provide for ECT beneficiaries “in such manner as the Trustees shall from time to time decide”, and that this “generality” should not be limited by the two explicit purposes that follow.

So one question to the trust is how much focus it now puts on encouraging or sustaining economic growth in the district — a lot still, or just a little?

And one further point with regard to that line in the advertisement, it almost indicates the exit of four directors early last month was partly due to such direction from the trust not being followed, when one of several theories for the split is that the Eastland Group board struggled to get management to agree to a more community-spirited path for the business. Relating to ECT? Well, the trust will have to relate to its chosen board and between it and Eastland Group management better if there are any future serious disagreements.