Rotorua Trust chairman eyes future after significant 12 months

Stewart Edward is a big believer in the value of the past, the present and the future.


In his role as Rotorua Trust chairman he sees it all the time – “eternally grateful” for the vision that saw the Trust created, and well aware of the difference the projects they’re funding today will have on future generations.


Then there’s the present, with Mr Edward recently notching up his first year on the Trust, alongside three other new trustees elected in late 2016 and two re-elected Trustees.


The Trust’s capital has now reached $150 million, with more than $110 million handed out since it began in 1994.


It has been a significant 12 months for the Trust, most recently with it approving in principle to give $1.5 million towards the restoration of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre. It’s a grant that wouldn’t have been possible without the good management and sound investment calls the Trust has made.


Mr Edward’s decision to stand for the Trust followed a long indirect association, with several projects he has been involved in benefiting from funding over the years.


“I knew the importance of the Rotorua Trust. When the Trust came into being it filled a huge gap. Nothing has had such an impact on our community as the Rotorua Trust.


“The wisdom of the people setting up the Trust has had an impact on this community far in excess of what those far-sighted people ever anticipated.


“Everybody has benefited in some way. It doesn’t matter what background you have come from.”


Mr Edward says one of the biggest achievements of the Trust during the past 12 months has been the development of a kaupapa statement, strategic plan and a clear set of funding priorities.


There has also been a strong focus on building relationships – amongst trustees, the Council, government agencies, district health board, iwi, other local funders including BayTrust, and the public.


He says part of that has been encouraging the Trust’s open door policy where people feel comfortable sharing their experience and ideas, as well as making the premises available for community use.


“The mix of Trustees we now have has brought that uniquely Rotorua feel to the Trust.”


Mr Edward says the diverse backgrounds of Trustees is one of the biggest strengths.


“We have a real knowledge of the community and its people and that helps immensely. We’ve also focused on helping guide people in the right direction if we don’t have the resources to help them.”


Personally, Mr Edward says a highlight is the Young Achievers programme, which the Trust sponsors.


“It is an absolutely privilege to be able to do things that have an impact on Rotorua.”


With more than $2.5 million given out to more than 200 Rotorua-based groups in the past calendar year, Mr Edward says the work isn’t over.


“We’re looking forward to getting back to work in 2018 and seeing what amazing projects we can help support to help make a better Rotorua for all.”


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