Profile Series: Lily Stender

Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel, Profile

For Lily Stender, 49, Māori business leader, being a trustee of the Tolaga Bay Inn is a way to place the historic enterprise in Māori ownership as well as foster economic, cultural and social development in the local community.

“When we acquired it, making money was not our main driver,” she said, with a laugh, during a Skype interview. “It was our way of returning to our ancestral homelands, reconnecting with our whakapapa, (relatives) and more importantly, bringing mum back to her place of birth.”

The Inn is a local historic landmark originally built in 1866 and then rebuilt in 1930. A challenging $5 million restoration project caused Stender and others to transfer the asset into a charitable trust which meant it was protected from private ownership. Their roles changed from owners to Kaitiaki (guardians) of the Inn. It became their responsibility, as descendants to protect, restore and preserve the Inn for our future generations.

View the entire profile here: Profiles – Lily Stender – 1