Mr Wahiao Raymond James Gray, JP, has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours for services to Māori and governance.
Mr Gray, who resides in Rotorua, says his first reaction was ‘surprise’ on learning he had been awarded the title of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Gray has contributed significantly in the area of Māori governance and trusteeship, holding a range of chairmanships and directorships across various organisations. He has worked closely with the Māori Land Courts where he has been appointed a Professional Trustee on close to 40 Māori Authorities.
Gray’s mahi has been of particular significance to Māori in a number of areas. Among these he cites, “As CEO, increasing a Maori Authority from an asset of $24 million to an asset base of $40 million at the same time establishing an export company exporting Maori beef into the States and Asia.
“It showed Maori could do it.”
Gray is recognised as one of the foremost authorities on the workings of Māori Trusts in New Zealand.
He spent 20 years working on the Tikitere Geothermal Development project for the construction of a geothermal power station which would eventually become the first and only 100 percent Māori-owned power project in New Zealand.
Gray also developed and published ‘Introduction to Governance of Māori Authorities’ in 1996, the only NZQA local approved book on the subject, which according to Gray, “was taught from Taiapa in the north to Wainuiomata in the south”.
He was Vice President from 2007 to 2010 and then President from 2010 to 2013 of the New Zealand Trustees Association (NZTA).
He is currently a Trustee for the NZTA Charitable Trust, the overseeing body for the Trustees Association.
Gray was the recipient of the Trustee of the Year Award in 1996 and the Trust of the Year Award in 1996 and 1997.