Our People

 Te Kapa o Ngā Roto Moana – The TALT Team

Ngā Pou Whakahaere


Chief Executive

Karen Vercoe

Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Mākino

Karen’s experience extends across multiple sectors with a focus on capability development and outcomes frameworks. Karen has held various leadership roles and has a passion for business and governance.

Karen has previously served as an elected member on the Sport Industry Training Organisation Māori Board and the OSCAR Foundation.

Show more

Karen was the recipient of the 2016 Dame Mira Szászy Māori Alumni Award. Recipients are graduates of the University of Auckland Business School who have achieved significant success in their careers and are involved in activities relating to the advancement of Māori. Karen holds a Master of Management degree from the University of Auckland (2007) and was a recipient of the University of Auckland Kelly Research Scholarship (2006).

Karen is currently the elected chairperson of Te Pūmautanga o Te Arawa and sits on the Iwi Chairs Forum Māori Sport and Iwi leaders groups.

Karen is a former New Zealand double international sportswoman in Rugby and Touch.

She is also the mokopuna of Major Te Reiwhati Vercoe who was a previous Chairman of Te Arawa Trust Board.

Karen is the proud mum of Hinemihi and Kahuao.

Te Papa Ahurewa Manager

Te Rangimārie Williams

Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhoe, Ngāti Hauiti, Taranaki

Te Rangimārie was raised in Tauranga moana and has whakapapa connections throughout the Bay of Plenty. Rotorua is home and where Te Rangimārie’s grandparents Tangiauriki McGarvey (nee Webber) and Piki McGarvey raised their whānau.

Te Rangimārie has an extensive background advocating for iwi and hapū in the taiao space, including as an environmental lawyer and more recently in the policy, planning and consents space.

Show more

Te Rangimārie recognises the need to advocate for Māori at both a local and national level to ensure whānau, hapū and iwi values are reflected in environmental decision-making. She has a wide range of experience in both realms, including as the head of an iwi environmental arm and as Lead Technical Advisor to the Kāhui Wai Māori.

Te Rangimārie joined Te Arawa Lakes Trust in mid-2021 to lead Te Papa Ahurewa, the new Te Arawa environmental services hub, working with hapū and iwi to help them understand and respond to environmental kaupapa, including assessing resource consent applications and providing engagement and policy advice.

Te Rangimārie is married to Ross Taurima (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine, Rakaipaaka) and they have three tamariki, Te Amo, Charlie and Kāwharu.

Relationships Manager

Taparoto Te Rerehau Nicholson Dip Wh, Dip Alt, Bed

Tainui, Te Arawa, Mataatua Aotea me Takitimu

Married to his wife of 40 years, Nuki Margaret nee Royal, they have one child, Ngaone Chantal who, with her husband, have two children, the centre of their universe when it comes to whānau.

Taparoto was educated at Te Aute College in the Hawkes Bay and then graduated Pokairua, Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau o Aotearoa, Rotorua. Taparoto was retained by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in various roles including Pou Ako, Pou Tikanga and Pou Tuarā alongside the Senior Management Team. After a period of planned self-employment in 2003 after 25-years at NZMACI, he returned to Te Puia in 2010 as GM Operations.

Show more

With over 30 years experience in the Cultural Heritage, Education and Tourism sectors, Taparoto has been involved in numerous projects advising Marae, PTIs, CRIs, companies, local government and other govt agencies in areas of organisational development including staff development, cultural supervision, education and tourism. These included the development of education and training programmes for Te Wānanga o Raukawa and Aotearoa.

Taparoto’s governance experience includes membership on various boards, including current roles on Te Runanga o Ngai Te Rangi Trust, Ngai Te Rangi Settlements Trust, New Zealand Geothermal Association, Geothermal Nuclear Science Governance Boards.

Taparoto joined Te Arawa Lakes Trust in May 2021, bringing extensive cultural and relationships experience to the new role.

Environmental Manager

Mariana Te Rangi

Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Rongomai

Mariana joined Te Arawa Lakes Trust in February 2020 as its Biosecurity Co-Ordinator, taking up the role of Environmental Manager in December 2020.

Mariana comes to Te Arawa Lakes Trust with a wealth of environmental knowledge from previous roles as a Biodiversity Supervisor and Senior Ranger with the Department of Conservation, and Environmental Manager at Te Puia and Rainbow Springs.

Show more

Mariana has a varied role with different layers of mahi. She sits on a number of regional and national environmental forums such as the Kauri Dieback and Myrtle Rust- Nga Rakau Taketake, Māori Reference Group for Biosecurity Act Review and the Operational Advisory Group for Wallaby.

She is excited by the opportunity to ensure hapū and iwi are engaged in the restoration and health and wellbeing of Te Arawa Lakes, Wetlands and whenua, and supporting them in their role as hunga tiaki.

Ngā Taratī


Te Kawatapuārangi Trustee

Tamihana (Toby) Curtis


Dr Sir Toby has served on Te Arawa Lakes Trust since 2006 and is widely acknowledged for his innovative achievements in education.

His cumulative expertise in Māori, polytechnic and university fields was achieved through his various roles as principal, lecturer, researcher, administrator and ultimately, as a senior academic in tertiary education.

Dr Sir Toby is the inaugural Chairperson for Te Arawa Lakes Trust.

Deputy Chairman
Te Ure o Uenukukōpako Trustee

Geoff Rolleston

Geoff is the Deputy Chairman and brings strong commercial and management experience to the table.

Having spent most of his working career in private enterprise associated with the timber and agri-business industries, he has accumulated invaluable experience in sales, marketing, negotiation, and  dispute resolution.

Show more

With reference to the business of Te Arawa Lakes Trust, he offers networks to help create a more vibrant and commercial existence for our iwi, over and above just being recognised as kaitiaki and administrators for our taonga.

Geoff is keen to support the current vision and strategy to drive the organisation to a whole new level in terms of its financial and operational objectives.

Tūhourangi Trustee

Nuki Nicholson

Ko Mere raua ko Bill Royal ōku Matua.

Married to Taparoto, we are blessed with our daughter Chantal and mokopuna Reagan and Ebony.

My strengths are integrity, humility and a strong passion to contribute to the economic, environmental, educational, social, cultural growth and development of our hapū and iwi.

Show more

I am the current Chair of Te Arawa Lakes Trust Te Taiao subcommittee and also sit on the Finance, Audit and Risk subcommittee.  I am a  Trustee – KapengaM Trust and Trustee – Te Arawa Waka Trust.

Currently,  Pou Arahi Taiao – Environment and Key Relationships Manager for Te Arawa River Iwi Trust.  My qualifications are in  Iwi and Environmental Management, Social Sciences (Geography).  I have over 40 years of work experience,  holding Senior Management positions in Finance, Forestry, Education, Tourism, Information-Technology and Health.  I have an extensive working knowledge of organisational operations, strategies, budgets and financial plans.

Tūhourangi Trustee

Niwa Nuri

I am a Fellow Chartered Accountant and Chair the Te Arawa Lakes Trust Finance, Audit and Risk subcommittee.

I am a Director on Toi Ohomai Limited, Chairman of the Waikato Institute of Technology Limited (Wintec),Trustee on Ngāti Tarāwhai Iwi Trust, and hold a Trustee position on Rototuna Primary School (Hamilton).

My professional governance experience means I offer the Lakes Trust skills and capability to enhance the well-being of Te Arawa uri.

Tūhourangi Trustee

Rangitihi Pene

Te Arawa Waka, Te Arawa Tāngata, Te Arawa Moana tēnei ka mihi.

My background is in education but in the last five years I have been drawn onto our tribal trusts. I am a current trustee of both Te Pūmautanga o Te Arawa and the Tūhourangi Tribal Authority. In these capacities I have attended meetings in relation to improving the water quality of Rotorua and Tarawera.

Show more

I see the Lakes Trust as a leader in providing Māori input into policy at both the local and national level. Our many lakes are under threat and we must be diligent in ensuring their mauri and cultural significance are enhanced.

My interests outside my whānau  are my marae, Hinemihi. My iwi, Tūhourangi, I am an active member of Te Whare Kōrero o Tūhourangi, who run tribal wānanga. I am also involved in both basketball and kapa haka.

Te Ure o Uenukukōpako Trustee

Roana Bennett

Roana Bennett holds a Bachelor of Management Studies degree from Waikato University and was a finalist in the New Zealander of the Year Award 2015 for Innovation in Iwi/Māori Education.

Her professional background is in strategy and governance, and she has proven leadership skills.

Show more

As a lifelong advocate for Iwi development, Roana believes Iwi well-being is inextricably linked to the environment. Te Arawa Lakes Trust provides the potential to transform Iwi, hapū and whānau well-being through environmental advocacy and collective action.

Te Ure o Uenukukōpako Trustee

Kingi Biddle

Our lakes are our taonga. Our lakes sustain us, protect us and are part of us as we are part of the lakes. It is the role of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust to be the hunga tiaki of all areas of our lakes and the assets that come under the Lakes Trust.

My moemoeā is to ensure that Lakes Quality is cared for, that our connection to our lakes are strengthened, and the wairua and the hā of our lakes are kept at the forefront of our conversations as the Te Arawa Lakes Trust.

Show more

I also support the drive that the Lakes Trust is behind to have the mana o ngā wai o ngā roto moana returned to Te Arawa hands. Nō tātau te wai – Nā te wai tātau: The lakes belong to us as we belong to the lakes.