Kelvyn Eglinton, Momentum Waikato Chief Executive

Kia ora tatou everyone.

On behalf of Momentum Waikato, we hope you are all happily hanging in there, ‘together alone’, as we live and work our way through the Covid-19 lockdown.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the nurses and doctors, the carers, the cleaners, the supermarket staff and all the other frontline workers who are going hard out during these dislocated times, keeping our society and economy functioning. 

When stepping back from the daily reality of the lockdown and peering into the future, it is clear to me that our region and nation are going to have to do things differently when the post-Covid-19 environment dawns.

To acknowledge the reality right now, I’m sure we’re all acutely aware of the massive response effort already happening across the Waikato and the nation, with central and local government tackling the immediate needs and priming needed economic stimuli.

Collaboration that usually unfolds over months has been hugely accelerated. For instance, the Waikato Community Funders Group, the network of the region’s charitable and philanthropic funding bodies, is meeting digitally every day to coordinate our funding responses to calls for help. 

Under that umbrella, Momentum Waikato is enabling the work of Wise Group at the recently donated Houchen Road Retreat, which was in the process of becoming their new Wellness Village for mental health and community support.

The virus emergency has instead switched the edge-of-town campus into ‘Houchen Hub’ mode, providing food and other support for the vulnerable across Hamilton, as part of a region-wide response coordinated by Community Waikato and other agencies. More to be announced on this front soon.

The emergency has accelerated our usual role connecting and convening across the region. Momentum Waikato is in a unique and privileged position, as we are able to operate between and alongside central and local government, private business and the not-for-profit sector. We were established to be more nimble than traditional funders, raise an endowment fund for the long-term betterment of the region, and invest into projects and services that create transformational change.

The leadership during this crisis at all levels in Aotearoa New Zealand has been outstanding so far, amongst the best in the world from what I can see.

But I would nevertheless challenge those of us in leadership positions that to achieve the more effective and immediate outcomes our communities need, we all have to reach out more pro-actively across the barriers created by central agency structures, local government boundaries, sector silos and agency politics.

Seems to me that currently we are all working hard and with good intent, but we are still mostly operating within our known circles of contacts and agencies.

The opportunity of this sudden new world we are in is to seek new collaborations that widen our impact, both during the emergency and beyond.

We need to take a leaf out of our Prime Minister’s book and lean on experiences and knowledge outside our usual circles and take advice and input from others who we don’t usually partner with. 

The time for visible leadership is now. In the Waikato we are blessed with a diverse economy that will recover quickly. We have the scale AND the ability to make connections quickly. The need for greater coordination across government, local authorities, charitable and business to realise the best outcomes for everybody is no more apparent than now.

Things are not just getting shaken up for the duration of the lockdown, we are already facing permanent and sustained change that seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago.  Therefore, we need to be ready and willing to think differently once The Mighty Waikato emerges from this time and the new normal is upon us.

Someone far more eloquent than I once said, “If we are to achieve things never before accomplished, we must employ methods never before attempted”.