Jason Fox has resigned as chief executive of Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, the Maori trust which has thousands of members in Wellington and Taranaki.
Trust chairman Wayne Mulligan confirmed the move, which is effective immediately, on Monday afternoon.
Fox, who had been chief executive for just over two years, was leaving “to pursue new opportunities”, Mulligan and deputy chairman Peter Jackson said in a statement.
Fox has not yet responded to a request for comment.
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Mulligan said the trust and its commercial business was focused on moving forward.
“We would like to thank Jason for his leadership over the last two years – he has been instrumental in the process of rebuilding the Trust and the business arm through very challenging times.”
While the statement said it was “business as usual”, the trust said Hannah Buchanan, the deputy chair who is also a trustee on the Wellington Tenths Trust, was taking a leave of absence from her trustee role to “step-in as an interim trust manager to oversee the transition”.
During the time that Fox was chief executive, the trust struck a deal with property developer Ian Cassels for a major redevelopment of its largest asset, a large block of land at Shelly Bay.
The buildings on the land, a former Air Force base, have been slowly rotting since the trust took ownership as part of its Crown settlement in 2008.
Initially members of the trust voted down the proposal, however Fox and former chairman Neville Baker later proposed a similar deal – with the approval of the trust – which was not required to go to a vote of members.
Following the trust’s annual meeting in 2016, Baker lost his position as chairman, however ultimately Mulligan and the new board opted to go ahead with the development.
Fox also indicated that the trust intended to pursue its former chairman Sir Ngatata Love in relation to transactions he undertook before stepping down in the wake of corruption allegations.
Love was charged by the Serious Fraud Office in relation to a number of transactions related to his time as chairman of Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust.
However these were dropped shortly before the trial when his then partner Lorraine Skiffington was granted a stay of prosecution on health grounds.
Ultimately Love trial covered a single charge related to defrauding the Tenths Trust. He was found guilty and is serving a two-and-a-half year prison sentence.