Regional | Taranaki

‘Pretty big deal’: Hayden Wano to chair Taranaki Māori business network

Taranaki’s Māori business network has received a major boost with the appointment of experienced chief executive and governance leader Hayden Wano (Taranaki, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Awa) as its new chair.

He Toronga Pakihi ki Taranaki’s announcement of Wano as governance leader, following his retirement last year as CEO of Tui Ora - the largest community-based health and social services provider in Taranaki, is a significant achievement for the organisation established just four years ago.

“To be able to secure someone like him as the chair of a voluntary organisation like He Toronga Pakihi is a pretty big deal,” says Miaana Patene (Taranaki, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Maru), who was interim chair for several months.

Wano says the network, which provides support for the many Māori involved with business and kaupapa Māori businesses in the region, may be in its infancy but it has “enormous potential”.

“This is a membership network organisation and there’s an opportunity for us to bring a way of strengthening those businesses by strengthening the networks through He Toronga Pakihi.

“He Toronga Pakihi is in a fledgling state, but it’s got enormous potential. It’s got solid foundations and we’re in the working phase of the lifecycle now – we’re getting down to business.”

As well as his governance acumen, Wano has extensive networks within and beyond Taranaki.

“He’s got really important regional and national relationships and networks, significant governance and chair experience, proven commitment to local Māori kaupapa in our Taranaki communities, so I have no doubt He Toronga will continue to thrive and be taken to another level under his leadership,” says Patene.

Inaugural He Toronga Pakihi chair, Ngā Iwi o Taranaki regional manager and Tihi Ltd business owner Emere Wano agrees he is a game-changer for the organisation.

“I knew there would come a time when it needed that next injection of skills experience and expertise to take it to another place,” she says of the experienced leader and her brother-in-law.

“I think he’s a great asset for the Trust because he has that experience… and he has very strong governance experience and he’s very well connected, not just in Taranaki but outside of Taranaki. This is part of the evolution of the Trust.

“The key thing about it for us is that it’s not just about somebody’s skills and expertise – that is highly valued – but it’s about their ability to connect on a cultural level in Te Ao Māori and bring that to the table.”

Now he’s semi-retired, Wano says he has time to take up the chair role – one of his many governance positions.

“I’m doing stuff I want to do rather than stuff I used to have to do. Specifically, I’m wanting to be involved more in the development of iwi Māori – that’s always been a big part of my career.”

Wano is also chair of Te Hiringa Mahara (the Mental Health & Wellbeing Commission), deputy chair of the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce, and trustee of Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust, which manages Taranaki iwi settlement assets.

As well, he is a trustee on the Taranaki Arts Festival Board, the New Zealand Board of SurfAid and Wise Group, a Hamilton-based NGO providing mental health, addiction and social services.

His former roles chairing organisations include the TSB Community Trust (now Toi Foundation), TSB Group Ltd, Taranaki District Health Board, the National Health Board and the Health Sponsorship Council.

Wano says Māori have an influential role to play in business and wider society.

“We are a youthful population now and we have come through despairing times, particularly the 19th century when there wasn’t a lot of hope for us – and here we are today. We’re not without our challenges… but we find ourselves become more influential in wider society.”

In 2023, Wano was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for his service to Māori health.

A father of three children and 11 mokopuna, with eight living in Taranaki, Wano says he keeps himself healthy through surfing, swimming, mountain biking and walking with wife Clare McComb.