Craig Deal, Operations Manager Whangarei District, Snow Tane, Te Roroa, Francis Toko, Pou Tairangahau and Sue Reed-Thomas, Operations Director Northern North Island.
Image: Abe Witana | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Matariki – Te Tau Hou Māori – signals the start of the Māori New Year. It is a time to gather, to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and plan for the future.

Date:  13 July 2021

On Monday, 12 June, Te Papa Atawhai/Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and invited guests from across Tai Tokerau joined to welcome the new Pou Tairangahau and Whangarei Operations Manager at the Hihiaua Cultural Centre in Whangārei.

DOC Northern North Island Operations Director Sue Reed-Thomas was proud to announce the appointments of Francis Toko into the role of Pou Tairangahau for Northern North Island and Craig Deal Operations Manager for the Whangārei District.

Francis Toko (Te Uri o Hau/Te Roroa) steps in to take on the challenging role of Pou Tairangahau for Northern North Island. Francis has spent the last three years working as the Iwi Relationships Manager for Kaipara District Council.

This is a significant role established to lead a Tai Tokerau wide approach to growing conservation with our Treaty Partners. This role focuses on supporting the Director of Operations to develop strong productive relationships with Whānau/Hāpu/Iwi, also providing regional leadership on the implementation of treaty settlements across Tai Tokerau. In addition, the Pou Tairangahau will be responsible for leading a regional programme of capability-building around effectively working with tangata whenua and fulfilling the department’s responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and enabling the proper integration of Kaupapa Māori essential to enhance the role of Kaitiakitanga for mutual conservation outcomes.

“As a Māori, son, father, uncle and friend it is my privilege and honour to be appointed to this role with the support of my whānau, hapū and iwi,” said Francis.

Francis brings and shares his experiences working with and across many different sectors from youth services, education, central and local government and engaging with a wide variety of community groups.

Craig Deal was born in Murupara, raised in Tauranga and moved to One Tree Point as a teenager, where he spent high school at Bream Bay College. He holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Ecology and Zoology. Craig joins our Whangārei office after serving ten years with the New Zealand Army and active operational deployments overseas.

“New to the role as Operations Manager I hope to contribute to the preservation of the unique and diverse natural landscapes and biodiversity in Whangārei. Conservation is all about people, and I look forward to developing strong relationships that will enable positive outcomes for conservation across Tai Tokerau,” said Craig.

Sue Reed-Thomas also acknowledged the hard work, commitment, and dedication shown by Aaron Taikato, who has held the position of Pou Tairangahau for the last 10 years. Aaron has now taken on a National Director role, Strategy Māori for Te Papa Atawhai and will soon be leading Ngā Whenua Rahul as Kaihautu/Director.

"'Mate atu he tētē kura, ara mai he tētē kura' this whakataukī represents birth, regrowth and regeneration and symbolises sustainability, the passing of knowledge and resources from one generation to the next,” said Aaron who hands the Pou Tairangahau role to Francis Toko as his last duty for Northern North Island.


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