Kelvyn Eglinton, Momentum Waikato Chief Executive

Kia ora tatou everyone.

What would ‘A Better Waikato for Everyone, Forever’ actually look like? 

That was a question we asked in our Waikato Vital Signs survey last year, drawing responses from across the region.    

In Hamilton, the dreams were of things like better long distance and city public transport, neighbourhoods safe from crime and traffic, and greater cultural inclusion.

In the Waikato’s towns, locals hope their identity and connection as a community can survive and be strengthened, ideally by their youngsters returning home or not having to leave in the first place.

Across the board, the Waikato Vital Signs submissions characterised a better future as a healthier environment and a sustainably prosperous economy, where the latter supports rather than compromises the former. 

We suggested survey respondents could express their answer to this question as a letter to their great great grandchild, which a number of people took up.

What would you want to tell your yet-to-be-born descendent about your hopes and dreams for the place you call home, at the beginning of the third decade of the millennium?

Here is just one of those heartfelt missives, from a Waipa survey respondent.

To my loved one.

I hope that the Waikato River is a clean and safe water resource and that you enjoy the wonderful native wildlife.

That you know what it is to run, walk, bike and play safely in the outdoors and you can explore this beautiful place of ours.

That your opportunities and learning are only limited by those that you put on yourself and to that end, remember, you can!

That you know what happiness is and at the same time appreciate that at times we will all need courage.

That we have given you the tools to learn from your forefathers’ errors and take the great things we have put in place to continue improving to make them better.

That you understand the importance of community and participation in that community - together we can, and we will.

To show gratitude.

That you have equal opportunity, be that in education, career or life choices

That conversations of gender, ethics and equalities are perhaps topics for study, as opposed to living and striving for.

That you know where you are from and your place and role to ensure its future for your children and grandchildren.

Remember to look to the future and plan for the long game. Health, Safety, Education, Economic Security. Understand you cannot do any of these on your own, you are part of an eco-system, a community.

Nga mihi – your Koro

Put simply then, philanthropy and Momentum Waikato are about the aroha and support for this place, this region, at this time and into the future, achieved through realising the very dreams envisaged in this letter.

We live in a world that, for all its goodness, is increasingly unequal, unstable, and unsustainable. Central and local governments in New Zealand are struggling to meet their traditional responsibilities to their citizens, our Treaty partners and those most in need.

The answers to the housing crisis, climate change, social inequality and realising our Treaty of Waitangi responsibilities have been known for some time. However, neither the market nor the government of any colour have sufficient mandate, the capacity or the will and the drive to move the legislative, budgetary and policy settings in the direction that will realise those answers.

But philanthropy can deliver, if enabled by a Community Leadership Agency that acts nimbly and delivers solutions in that critical gap between the government and the markets.

Because people cannot sleep in a framework.

A regional endowment built by the generosity of the people of this region is an elegant and appropriate solution.

Philanthropic dollars are often said to be society’s ‘risk capital’, validating and supporting ideas that are considered outside the mainstream of government commitments or commercial investment.

Momentum Waikato is well placed to fund the trying out of new things, to validate what is effective and then build the compelling case for government or corporates to invest, as we are unphased by the challenge of such partnerships.

The switch to an ‘Impact Investment’ model adopted by our board last year moves us on from traditional grant-making funded by siloed investment income – instead we are using our capital itself to leverage the power of the market to create positive change.

Impact investing is the intent to invest capital to generate a measurable social and/or environmental impact as well as providing a monetary return – from just recycling the principal to a risk-adjusted market rate return.

Momentum Waikato will be utilising Impact Investment methodology to deliver housing and integrated wellness centres throughout our region.  We have recently appointed Steve Gow to our team as Projects Director to lead these initiatives and assist our partners in delivering homes where people can raise families, be secure and have a sense of place.

We thank all our wonderful business and collaboration partners who make these projects possible.

Because of the increasing complexity, breadth and scale of the challenges to be addressed, philanthropy today is best undertaken with collective intent and as a collaborative exercise with other funders.

Momentum Waikato acts as a mechanism for philanthropy by building a regional endowment fund of $300 million by 2045. And then we now fully utilise those funds by investing in Transformational Intergenerational Strategic Outcomes (TISO).

As we move into our second five-year strategic period, we have built an endowment fund close to $30 million and are well on our way to delivering a world class $74-million performance theatre for the region.

We have grown our donor database and established 15 funds and bequests, with more in the pipeline, and distributed more funds to more groups than ever before.

Whilst we are proud of these results and encourage you to read our Annual Report to find out more, the success of Momentum Waikato is not measured in the short term. Endowment funds are by their very nature a long-term undertaking, designed to deliver in perpetuity.

Nor will our success be measured in the size of the fund, the number of donors or the amount of money we invest. It won’t be measured by the number of houses, the size of the theatre, the scale of wellness centres or the number of programmes we deliver with our partners.

If I reflect on the letter above, when I read it aloud, I know Momentum Waikato will be successful when…

The awa is clean and the native wildlife is healthy.

When the community can explore and play in our beautiful outdoor region.

When we all have opportunities to learn and develop.

Where everyone is happy and courageous in their support of their community and shows gratitude for what we have.

That we have learnt from our previous errors and continue to improve our region.

That we have reduced inequality and people have a sense of place and the tenure of a home, a school and a community.

Where we are part of a community that is fully inclusive of our Treaty partners and all cultures and religions.

When people can participate equally to secure a community’s future and plan for the long game.

It starts now, with you and me, and with the great spirit of generosity that defines the mighty Waikato.

That is our 100-year game plan, we have just started year seven, we hope you join us for the 93 years to come and beyond.