Skip to content

From the Chairperson

Kia ora koutou,

Many of our community that have visited the Trust would recall Tony Gill’s welcoming smile, his ability to ensure applicants were heard, and his sound management of Trust operations, Tony will be remembered by many, as we acknowledge the contribution and the memory of Tony, the former Trust manager, who served the Trust so diligently. We celebrated his life in April this year at a service held at the Sir Howard Morrison Centre. The centre was a major project he was involved with, and it was great to see his presence earlier in the year at the formal opening.

I would also like to express our gratitude to Jackie McCullough, our Chief Executive since May 2022. Her contributions to the Trust have been invaluable. As we release a revised strategic plan for the new financial year, our Trust operational roles, comprising Melanie Short, Kaycie O’Connor, and Megan Romanes, have played a vital part in managing grants, providing connection and capability building within our community organisations. Along with implementing our revised strategic direction. I acknowledge them for their hard work and adaptability in navigating the challenges we faced.

The past financial year has seen milestones and challenges, including the continuation of the Trust’s cornerstone of granting, ongoing financial management of Trust investments during a volatile market, and work on a renewed strategic direction for the next financial year.

Throughout the year, the Trust supported numerous projects aligning with our vision of a more vibrant and resilient Rotorua, ‘mō tātau katoa’; for all of us.

While the Trust’s closing funds for the 2022/23 financial year amounted to $157million, a six per cent decrease compared to the previous year, it is important to note that the financial markets experienced significant losses during the year, which were primarily driven by central bank interest rate increases and negative market sentiment.

Despite these challenges, the Trust remained committed to effective financial management and ensuring long-term impact from Trust operations and grants, supporting initiatives in the priority areas of Healthy Families and Homes, Education, Training and Employment, Strengthening Communities, Arts, Culture and Sports, Environment and Climate Change. This commitment is reflected in the Trust approving $4.204 million across 201 grants. Notably, this was an increased granting budget when compared to $3.743 million across 205 grants in 2020/21 and it represents the Trust’s dedication to maximising support and fostering positive outcomes. 

As one term concluded and another began, we acknowledge Deputy Chair Mike Keefe and trustees Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and Gregg Brown for their ongoing contributions. We appreciate the dedication and insight provided by Tāmati Coffey during his six years as Deputy Chair and the eighteen years of service from Jo-Anne La Grouw, whose energy and community knowledge were invaluable. We warmly welcomed Cathy Cooney and Fisher Wang to the Trust in November; they have already proven valuable members.

To achieve the most impactful outcomes for the community our 2023/24 renewed strategy prioritises Healthy Families and the Environment. The other areas of focus are Education, Strengthening Communities and Vibrancy. We acknowledge the importance of adequate housing in contributing to healthy families, and our partnership with Habitat for Humanity works towards that goal. Moreover, we’re collaborating with other Bay of Plenty funders to establish the BOP Housing Equity Fund, to create more affordable housing opportunities in our region. The Investment Committee, led by Gregg Brown and supported by Brian Kearney from Mercer and the Trust financial advisor Noah Schiltknecht of Makao Investments, consider all impact investment opportunities that are presented. Our external financial advisors including BDO along with the audit and risk committee expertise’s and guidance have been instrumental in ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of our investments and management of finances. We thank Barry Lane and trustee, Cathy Cooney for their contribution to the Audit and Risk Committee work for the Trust.

The Trust also acknowledges the ongoing productive relationships with Rotorua Lakes Council, the former mayor Steve Chadwick and current mayor Tania Tapsell.

Witnessing first-hand the positive impact of the Trust’s funding, I have had the privilege of attending various events and made a number of community site visits. In June, I was pleased to attend the inauguration of the Presbyterian Church, followed by the twenty-first birthday celebration of Parksyde in November. In February, I attended the opening concert of the Sir Howard Morrison Centre and we witnessed the grand opening of QE Health in March. Our ongoing support for the Lakeside Concert, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in March, further demonstrated our commitment to community engagement. Additionally, I had the pleasure of seeing the Cadenza singing competition continue for another year, and visiting Mamaku school’s Eco-Friendly Swimming Pool Complex “Wai Aroha Nui – A big love of water,” where solar panels power the lights, heaters, and filters, demonstrating the successful integration of positive environmental outcomes.

Strengthening education outcomes, the collaboration with the Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust continues to prioritise improving literacy and numeracy skills for tamariki and rangatahi. Another highlight of many years is the Young Achievers function, organised by Lee Anne Thompson and Andrew Warner. Again, the event showcased outstanding students who have achieved remarkable results academically in our community.

Community recognition and engagement are at the heart of “In Profile”, which has gained a wider readership. This publication serves as a way of recording the stories of individuals who enrich the fabric and diversity of Rotorua. On that note, the Trust has also been fortunate to collaborate with the Geyser Foundation in honouring community leader Laurie Durand for his extensive work with youth in our city through the establishment of the Laurie Durand Ohi Rangatahi Memorial Fund

As we move into a new financial year, we thank our Trustees, staff, partners, and all our local organisations for contributing to our community. The Trust remains steadfast in its commitment to addressing the needs of our community.

Ngā mihi nui,

Stewart Edward