New phase for Richard Brooking

You might have heard a rumour about Richard Brooking leaving Gisborne, with a new role in Masterton now he is no longer the Eastland Community Trust chairman. It’s partly true, but he’ll remain a local. Sophie Rishworth sat down with Richard who, at 61, is entering an interesting new chapter of life.

You might have heard a rumour about Richard Brooking leaving Gisborne, with a new role in Masterton now he is no longer the Eastland Community Trust chairman. It’s partly true, but he’ll remain a local. Sophie Rishworth sat down with Richard who, at 61, is entering an interesting new chapter of life.

Richard Brooking is a results driven and determined man who has been working since he was 14. He speaks philosophically about the changes in his life at 61. Picture by Paul Rickard

A COUPLE of years before Richard Brooking’s Mum passed away, the two of them came up with a set of principles; honesty, trust, respect and forgiveness.

For more than 25 years those principles have dominated Richard’s work relationships and, as he embarks on a change of lifestyle, they will be used to even out the balance between life and work.

In a few months he will move to his Mum’s turangawaewae in Whakaki, between Nuhaka and Wairoa. It’s a 45-minute drive from here but Gisborne will stay his home base for now. There will be travel every week between here, Masterton, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington, with a number of exciting projects to immerse himself in.

“I haven’t got a job as such but directorships and trustee roles, which will generate sufficient income to survive on. It will be an interesting lifestyle.”

Well-known around town for a number of posts he has held, Richard is a results-driven man whose greatest memories of his time on Eastland Community Trust (ECT) include helping to lift the performance of the trust to meet community expectations.

During his six years as chairman, ECT went from distributing a few hundred thousand dollars a year to $6 million annually. It also developed a framework for grants to be made for social, cultural and environmental projects as well as economic ones.

Richard’s application for another three-year term on ECT was not successful. He is philosophical about that, and wants to thank Gisborne District councillors for his seven-year tenure as a trustee. To his fellow trustees and the staff at ECT, he also wants to congratulate and thank them for their support and hard work.

Wishing ECT well

“I enjoyed my time with ECT and want to wish them all well for the future.”

Many moments stand out during his time with ECT but a few really made a lasting impression — like supporting multi-year funding for the Eastland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the home insulation project and the Navigations Project, mainly because of the positive impact they have, or will have, on the community.

But he is just as pleased trust funds were also directed towards educational projects like Mind Lab. Funding Te Matatini in Gisborne was also significant as it acknowledged the importance of Maori culture and the economic significance of large Maori events.

“What’s good about the calibre of trustees on ECT is that you get robust discussion around major grant applications, as well as high-quality debates about the evolving direct-investment strategy.”

Born in 1955, Richard grew up determined. His working life started at age 14 with a job at Tomoana Freezing Works.
“I swore one day I would return wearing a white coat as a supervisor or manager. Seven years later I did return — as an Inspector of Factories wearing, of course, a white coat.”

His mother was an Anglican Priest for the last few years of her life and died in 1993 at 61 years of age.

“She really was an inspiration to our whanau and I loved the fact that she cared so much for everyone.”

A father in the railways

His Dad worked for many years in the railways and then the P&T division of the NZ Post Office.

“Dad remarried following his retirement and we were lucky enough to inherit an extraordinary stepmother and her wonderful family.”

It has been a little over a year since Richard lost his wife Nellie. They had been together since their early 20s.

“Nellie and I went on our OE together in 1980. We backpacked through the UK and Europe, slept on trains and in homestays and had a fantastic time. It was a working holiday so we got to meet lots of interesting people from an array of backgrounds.”

Richard and their daughter Kamaea weathered the year following Nellie’s passing together. During the unveiling earlier this year, they ensured Nellie’s life was celebrated with as many friends and whanau that could fit into Ohako Marae.

“Traditionally we hold an unveiling about a year after a loved one has died. It is a wonderful process.The tangi gives you three days to mourn the loss, and the unveiling gives you the opportunity to celebrate their life. It’s a nice closure process and emotionally it helps you prepare for the next lot of opportunities that life presents.”

During their grieving, Richard and Kamaea were surrounded by whanau and close friends who helped them come out the other side.

“You have to recreate your life. Getting busy doing things is an essential part of that.”

A positive outlook

Richard says he has always been pretty positive about things in general.

“Life is too short to let silly things upset you. I love fishing in my spare time and sometimes you get lucky and actually catch something. The most enjoyable part, though, is just going fishing.”

For the immediate future he holds a directorship of Watson & Sons Ltd, a manuka honey company based in Masterton that exports potted honey and health products to Asia, Europe, America and the UK. He is also a trustee of the Manukatoa Trust that aims to address education, health and Maori land development objectives.

The Te Ha 1769 Sestercentennial Trust will be a key area of focus for him over the next few years, culminating in the national commemorative event in October 2019.

“I’m really pleased with the trustees we have developing the Te Ha journey. They are a mix of very talented and passionate local people with a keen interest in our history.”

He is excited Tairawhiti will pave the way for the 2019 sestercentennial event and supports the Minister of Culture and Heritage and her department to get greater Government buy-in.

Richard will remain an iwi representative on the Wastewater Management Committee for GDC. This fulfils a long-term aspiration of the community to stop untreated sewage being directly discharged into the sea.

The wetlands project

He is a keen supporter of the wetland pilot project, which will provide essential information for the secondary treatment of sewage. The project will also give rural communities and marae the opportunity to utilise the wetland knowledge for their own waste treatment processes.

Richard will also continue in his role as Wharerata Forest Ltd chairman and is still a board member of the Tairawhiti Museum. He is also a director of Indigenous Data Analytics, an exciting new company developing solutions for behaviour change.

Richard has been a member of Rotary for more than 10 years and was made a Paul Harris Fellow earlier this year, for achievements in the community.

That’s a lot on the serious side of his life, but the proportions are being kept in balance by a blossoming new relationship after meeting a new lady in the Hawke’s Bay while working on a project together.

“We are the same vintage and share much the same philosophy of life, and enjoy spending time together. What more could you want?”

Richard has been influenced since the late 1990s by the 19th century philosopher Martin Buber’s writing — I-It, I-Thou.

“My interpretation of it is essentially that we are all affected by two forces in our lives. A classic I-Thou person is someone who thinks about everything that surrounds them — the rivers, lakes, mountains, plants, animals etc as a part of themselves. An I-It person thinks about everything external to themselves as ultimately exploitable.

“We’re all a bit of both but I like to think I’m more of an I-Thou person because I hold a Maori view of the world and am more inclined to the nurturing of people, places and things.”

The work he will be doing at Whakaki will be “I-Thou” work with an “I-It” reality check from time to time, he says.
“It is an ongoing dance between the two forces.”

But he believes that everybody, eventually, becomes “I-Thou”.

A COUPLE of years before Richard Brooking’s Mum passed away, the two of them came up with a set of principles; honesty, trust, respect and forgiveness.

For more than 25 years those principles have dominated Richard’s work relationships and, as he embarks on a change of lifestyle, they will be used to even out the balance between life and work.

In a few months he will move to his Mum’s turangawaewae in Whakaki, between Nuhaka and Wairoa. It’s a 45-minute drive from here but Gisborne will stay his home base for now. There will be travel every week between here, Masterton, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington, with a number of exciting projects to immerse himself in.

“I haven’t got a job as such but directorships and trustee roles, which will generate sufficient income to survive on. It will be an interesting lifestyle.”

Well-known around town for a number of posts he has held, Richard is a results-driven man whose greatest memories of his time on Eastland Community Trust (ECT) include helping to lift the performance of the trust to meet community expectations.

During his six years as chairman, ECT went from distributing a few hundred thousand dollars a year to $6 million annually. It also developed a framework for grants to be made for social, cultural and environmental projects as well as economic ones.

Richard’s application for another three-year term on ECT was not successful. He is philosophical about that, and wants to thank Gisborne District councillors for his seven-year tenure as a trustee. To his fellow trustees and the staff at ECT, he also wants to congratulate and thank them for their support and hard work.

Wishing ECT well

“I enjoyed my time with ECT and want to wish them all well for the future.”

Many moments stand out during his time with ECT but a few really made a lasting impression — like supporting multi-year funding for the Eastland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the home insulation project and the Navigations Project, mainly because of the positive impact they have, or will have, on the community.

But he is just as pleased trust funds were also directed towards educational projects like Mind Lab. Funding Te Matatini in Gisborne was also significant as it acknowledged the importance of Maori culture and the economic significance of large Maori events.

“What’s good about the calibre of trustees on ECT is that you get robust discussion around major grant applications, as well as high-quality debates about the evolving direct-investment strategy.”

Born in 1955, Richard grew up determined. His working life started at age 14 with a job at Tomoana Freezing Works.
“I swore one day I would return wearing a white coat as a supervisor or manager. Seven years later I did return — as an Inspector of Factories wearing, of course, a white coat.”

His mother was an Anglican Priest for the last few years of her life and died in 1993 at 61 years of age.

“She really was an inspiration to our whanau and I loved the fact that she cared so much for everyone.”

A father in the railways

His Dad worked for many years in the railways and then the P&T division of the NZ Post Office.

“Dad remarried following his retirement and we were lucky enough to inherit an extraordinary stepmother and her wonderful family.”

It has been a little over a year since Richard lost his wife Nellie. They had been together since their early 20s.

“Nellie and I went on our OE together in 1980. We backpacked through the UK and Europe, slept on trains and in homestays and had a fantastic time. It was a working holiday so we got to meet lots of interesting people from an array of backgrounds.”

Richard and their daughter Kamaea weathered the year following Nellie’s passing together. During the unveiling earlier this year, they ensured Nellie’s life was celebrated with as many friends and whanau that could fit into Ohako Marae.

“Traditionally we hold an unveiling about a year after a loved one has died. It is a wonderful process.The tangi gives you three days to mourn the loss, and the unveiling gives you the opportunity to celebrate their life. It’s a nice closure process and emotionally it helps you prepare for the next lot of opportunities that life presents.”

During their grieving, Richard and Kamaea were surrounded by whanau and close friends who helped them come out the other side.

“You have to recreate your life. Getting busy doing things is an essential part of that.”

A positive outlook

Richard says he has always been pretty positive about things in general.

“Life is too short to let silly things upset you. I love fishing in my spare time and sometimes you get lucky and actually catch something. The most enjoyable part, though, is just going fishing.”

For the immediate future he holds a directorship of Watson & Sons Ltd, a manuka honey company based in Masterton that exports potted honey and health products to Asia, Europe, America and the UK. He is also a trustee of the Manukatoa Trust that aims to address education, health and Maori land development objectives.

The Te Ha 1769 Sestercentennial Trust will be a key area of focus for him over the next few years, culminating in the national commemorative event in October 2019.

“I’m really pleased with the trustees we have developing the Te Ha journey. They are a mix of very talented and passionate local people with a keen interest in our history.”

He is excited Tairawhiti will pave the way for the 2019 sestercentennial event and supports the Minister of Culture and Heritage and her department to get greater Government buy-in.

Richard will remain an iwi representative on the Wastewater Management Committee for GDC. This fulfils a long-term aspiration of the community to stop untreated sewage being directly discharged into the sea.

The wetlands project

He is a keen supporter of the wetland pilot project, which will provide essential information for the secondary treatment of sewage. The project will also give rural communities and marae the opportunity to utilise the wetland knowledge for their own waste treatment processes.

Richard will also continue in his role as Wharerata Forest Ltd chairman and is still a board member of the Tairawhiti Museum. He is also a director of Indigenous Data Analytics, an exciting new company developing solutions for behaviour change.

Richard has been a member of Rotary for more than 10 years and was made a Paul Harris Fellow earlier this year, for achievements in the community.

That’s a lot on the serious side of his life, but the proportions are being kept in balance by a blossoming new relationship after meeting a new lady in the Hawke’s Bay while working on a project together.

“We are the same vintage and share much the same philosophy of life, and enjoy spending time together. What more could you want?”

Richard has been influenced since the late 1990s by the 19th century philosopher Martin Buber’s writing — I-It, I-Thou.

“My interpretation of it is essentially that we are all affected by two forces in our lives. A classic I-Thou person is someone who thinks about everything that surrounds them — the rivers, lakes, mountains, plants, animals etc as a part of themselves. An I-It person thinks about everything external to themselves as ultimately exploitable.

“We’re all a bit of both but I like to think I’m more of an I-Thou person because I hold a Maori view of the world and am more inclined to the nurturing of people, places and things.”

The work he will be doing at Whakaki will be “I-Thou” work with an “I-It” reality check from time to time, he says.
“It is an ongoing dance between the two forces.”

But he believes that everybody, eventually, becomes “I-Thou”.

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