Ngahau and Debbie Davis

Debbie and Ngahau Davis Ngahau and Debbie Davis, are part of a strong leadership team at the He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust in the Northland town of Moerewa, and are role models in catalysing economic and community development for small rural communities.

The Trust started off as a skill-based training provider in the early 1980s, at a time when many small rural service towns in the North were sinking into unemployment, crime and drug and alcohol problems. But Ngahau and Debbie soon found limits to the trust’s skill training strategies which had become stuck in training people for jobs that didn’t exist. This led them to directly pursuing opportunities for local economic development.

Several community-owned enterprises — including a café, hairdresser, crafts shop, surfshop, tamoko shop and body/massage shop — have been established in previously derelict main street premises. Other enterprises have included a building business and an insulation retrofitting business. These businesses now are run independently, and are paying rents which help to further fund community projects.

The Trust has also established Tutu Productions, a Recording Studio and multi-media Production House which is developing local music, creating radio programmes, and editing films for documentaries. This project has uncovered a wide resource of local talented young people as movie producers, video editors, actors, audio engineers, musicians, radio announcers, graphic artists, marketers, and scriptwriters.

He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust runs a range of social service programmes such as counselling, whanau support, drug and alcohol programmes and school programmes, and have also led local community planning for Moerewa’s future. This has resulted in the beautification of the township area, and the development of new community facilities such as public toilets and a skateboard park.

In recent years, Ngahau and Debbie have taken their work and experience to many other small rural communities — showcasing local talent in a “Be Who You’re Born to Be” Roadshow, and promoting their message about how empowerment and enterprise rebuilds communities and community spirit ... and translates into tangible employment and income.