A community consultation workshop held in November 2019 helped set the parameters for the Waikato Intercultural Fund.

A new philanthropic fund set up to support projects that bring together the Waikato’s diverse cultures now has a foundational Board in place and a new title.

The Waikato Intercultural Fund (WIF), previously the Waikato Cultural Inclusion Fund, was established by Momentum Waikato following discussions with local ethnic and migrant support services, with its initial launch in March 2019 being prompted by the Christchurch terrorist attack.

The process of initiating the Fund’s governance has been steadily unfolding since, with a couple of community engagement events and a working group then drawing up core documents. The WIF’s new volunteer Board then recently held its opening meeting, with its first significant decision being to follow a recommendation from the earlier activities to change the Fund’s title.

Foundational Chair Jannat Maqbool says that while societal inclusion is one of the issues to be addressed, ‘intercultural’ most accurately describes the Fund’s vision and mission.

"We want this to be about more than just encouraging awareness of different cultures, it is about mutual respect and acceptance,” says Jannat.

“The region is home to so many vibrant communities and this Waikato Intercultural Fund will work for the good of all of us, supporting initiatives that foster and celebrate diversity for the well-being of everyone."

Momentum Waikato Chief Executive Kelvyn Eglinton says it is all about building basic human respect.

“Our ability to be inclusive, as a nation, as a global community, requires us all to try our best to understand and show respect for cultures, experiences and traditions different to our own,” says Kelvyn.

“Not to disassociate or put distance between us, but to seek and demonstrate a greater understanding and care for each other. Because mutual respect for our differences creates the sense of unity that confirms that our humanity is what we have in common.”

The foundational members of the Waikato Intercultural Fund Board are:

  • Jannat Maqbool - Chair

  • Jovi Abellanosa

  • Rachel Afeaki Taumoepeau

  • Priya Kurian

  • Vanisri Mills

  • Asad Mohsin

  • Jenny Nand

  • Andrea Perry.

Profiles on each are below.

Like the Waikato Women’s Fund also operating under the umbrella of Momentum Waikato, the Waikato Intercultural Fund will be a giving circle that fundraises to build an investment account within Momentum Waikato’s wider regional Endowment Fund.

The income it generates will then be granted to or invested in changemaking projects that foster an intercultural Waikato, whether they be charities or social enterprises.

Waikato Intercultural Fund Board Profiles – September 2020

Jannat Maqbool - Chair

Jannat is an accomplished academic, CPA and former CIO who has recently completed a Master’s of Digital Business at the University of Waikato and is actively engaged in the NZ technology sector.

With a focus on leveraging data and technology in innovative ways to benefit individuals, organisations and communities, Jannat is a passionate advocate for digital inclusion and is involved with a number of initiatives focused on digital enablement, including as a Trustee at Web Access Waikato.

Jannat is also a Trustee of the Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust, and the Director-NZ for the Smart Cities Council, which works globally to help cities and regions be more liveable and sustainable.


Jovi Abellanosa

Jovi is the Ethnic Development Advisor at the Hamilton City Council. She has Master’s Degrees in English and Professional Studies Development Communication.

Before coming to New Zealand, she was a university lecturer in the Philippines and was involved in Community Development. More recently, she was Relationship Manager and coordinated Settlement Support for the Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust.

Jovi works with settlement organisations and diverse communities to promote a welcoming and inclusive city, where people can participate in its social, cultural and economic life.


Rachel Afeaki Taumoepeau

Rachel, a New Zealand-born Tongan of Ngati Awa descent, is the Chairperson of Waikato Business Network, a Director and Advisor of FaceNorth Promotions Ltd and a member of NZ Institute of Directors.

Her background is in strategic governance and business management within small and medium-sized organisations, both in the business and community sector. She is also on the Board of the Waikato Women’s Fund.


Priya Kurian

Priya is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Waikato. Her work focuses on the significance of gender, culture, race and class to understanding environmental, social, cultural and political sustainability.

Her research on democratic politics and public engagement makes the case for justice, equity and inclusion. Priya is also a founder-trustee of Shama Ethnic Women’s Centre Trust.   


Vanisri Mills

Vani is the Manager and Co-founder of Diversity Counselling New Zealand and a Trustee for Volunteering Waikato. She is a member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors and served as a registered psychiatric nurse.

Vani migrated to New Zealand with her family in 2010 and is committed to actively supporting inclusive, diverse, and compassionate communities.


Asad Mohsin

Asad has several years of community service experience, including currently being the Immediate Past President of the Waikato Multicultural Council and President of the Waikato Muslim Association. Previously in Australia he was the Chairperson of the Wagaman Residents’ Committee in Darwin and the Vice-President of the Northern Territory Multicultural Council.

He is currently an Associate Professor at The University of Waikato School of Management, with research interests in human resource issues linked to staff turnover and empowerment, vacation motives and interests, and service quality.

Asad’s industry and academic experience has seen him working with diverse cultures in different countries in the Middle East, Asia and Pacific.


Jenny Nand

Jenny currently works as a Strategic Advisor for the Department of Internal Affairs. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Science and over 15 years of experience working in the community sector, with particular skills in community-led development.

Jenny has in-depth experience, knowledge and passion when it comes to working on diversity and inclusion initiatives and projects.

Having a broad perspective and understanding enables Jenny to proactively identify the aims and aspirations of our diverse communities and be responsive to future aspirations.

Jenny believes in an Aotearoa that is diverse, inclusive and creates an equitable space for everyone to thrive.


Andrea Perry

Andrea is an experienced executive manager with 10 years in leadership positions and a career strong in intercultural bridgebuilding.

She has lived experience with Palestinian communities in Jordan, in refugee support, and in advocacy and support for international students.

Andrea loves to train and empower people to engage in new ways by understanding themselves and others. She brings experience across sectors including The University of Waikato, NZ Red Cross, and Christian church and community groups.

What does ‘intercultural’ mean?

The US-based Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning provides the definition that distinguishes the concept from ‘multi-cultural’ or ‘cross-cultural’.

“Intercultural describes communities in which there is a deep understanding and respect for all cultures. Intercultural communication focuses on the mutual exchange of ideas and cultural norms and the development of deep relationships. In an intercultural society, no one is left unchanged because everyone learns from one another and grows together.”

See their website for more on the three concepts.