Further to the Waikato Business Awards announcement we sent out in mid-March, this article from the Waikato Business News March/April 2022 issue includes the judges feedback on our winning entries.

Momentum Waikato took home two of the silver ‘vortex’ trophies from the recent Waikato Business Awards ceremony – those for ‘Community Contribution’ and ‘Not-for-Profit’.

The region’s community leadership foundation exists to create 'A Better Waikato for Everyone, Forever'.

Since its founding in 2015, Momentum’s board and staff have been aggressively pursuing their twin strategic objectives of leading transformational projects and building a regional endowment fund.

The judges’ statement for the ‘Community Contribution’ Award showed their efforts are making a difference.

“Momentum Waikato demonstrated a range of community contribution that has had significant impact on Waikato today and well into the years to come.

“Momentum Waikato is particularly well known for championing the development and fundraising for the Waikato Regional Theatre. The judges were also impressed at the growth of the fund, the use of growth targets, extensions to giving circles and especially the development of the Houchen wellbeing retreat.”

The judges’ view on the ‘Not for Profit’ Award was equally enthusiastic.

“We were impressed by both the reach and scale of the community impact achieved by this not-for-profit organisation in the six short years since its formation.

“Their leadership team demonstrated an entrepreneurial and agile business-minded approach, innovating their operational models to streamline the organisation and extend the depth and breadth of change it offers the community.”

Momentum Chief Executive Kelvyn Eglinton says winning such recognition is a huge honour.

“These awards are a tribute to our donors and supporters, who make what we do happen - we simply ‘connect and convene’ to help bring their projects to life.

“These are people who recognise philanthropy can create positive change in our communities and want to be generous in a smart and strategic way over the long term,” says Kelvyn.

Momentum is most well-known for driving the Waikato Regional Theatre, its first signature transformational project.

This 1300-seat riverside multi-function performing arts centre will be an exciting entertainment destination, a springboard for the region's professional performing arts industries and a huge boost to the Hamilton CBD.

Momentum is still raising funds to complete the build - the current goal is $80 million, with about $7 million still being sought.

After many trials and tribulations delayed the project, the new Waikato Regional Property Trust, which will own the Theatre, signed the construction contract with Fosters Group in July 2021, with work starting on site soon after.

As of March 2022, demolition and site preparation are well advanced - the Theatre is due to open in early 2024.

The ‘public-community-private partnership’ approach of the Theatre project is without precedent for a large civic facility. Momentum has navigated this uncharted territory, while delivering a range of community support, thanks to its flexibility and clear purpose.

Pūniu River Care, a marae-based social enterprise in Te Awamutu, is a great example of an impressive community organisation that Momentum funded early on. A nursery-build grant in 2016 catalysed a nationally recognised eco success story. Unlocking such potential by bridging gaps in existing funding models is key to Momentum’s mission.

As the Award judges noted, a key proof point was the gifting of the Houchen Retreat in Glenview to Momentum in late 2019. In partnership with the Wise Group, a ‘wellbeing village’ is being developed, providing wrap-around support services and a test case for this promising model of care.

Momentum’s agility has come to the fore during the Covid pandemic. A example has been 'The Greatest Needs Appeal', which has quicky sought and delivered significant donations to effective frontline community groups distributing food and winter essentials during the lockdowns.

During its first five years up to 2020, Momentum’s regional endowment fund goal was to reach $25 million, which it achieved through bequests, donations and trust transfers in June 2020, with total assets reaching $32 million in June 2021.

Now into its second five-year strategic term, Momentum has an endowment fund target of $80 million by 2025 and is progressing new transformational projects in affordable housing, community connectedness and pathways for young people.

A key strategic move has been to shift into ‘impact investment', meaning Momentum now offers a range of finance options to organisations and projects that will generate positive social and environmental outcomes, as well as a financial return.

Focused on the long-term prosperity and wellbeing of the Waikato, with the agility to react to the community’s immediate challenges, Momentum Waikato is certainly getting things moving.