Neil Richardson has been appointed as the new Chair of Momentum Waikato, as of its February 2020 Board meeting. He has been a Trustee since the Community Foundation’s formation in May 2013 and its Deputy Chair since 2018. 

Mr Richardson has had a distinguished executive and governance career in the commercial, academic and not-for-profit sectors. Since moving to New Zealand from Australia in 1990 to take on the role of Group Managing Director of the Gallagher Group, he has been the chair of numerous Waikato-based organisations, including AgResearch, New Zealand Home Loans, Seales Winslow, Smart Loyalty and Child Matters, as well as national organisations, such as the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

He has also been a director of numerous other entities, a Council member at the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), a member of the External Advisers Group advising the Minister for Science and Technology on Crown Research Institute reforms, and the Independent Chair of the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project following the PSA outbreak.

“I am excited to be leading Momentum Waikato into its second five-year strategic plan and as the Waikato Regional Property Trust take carriage of the Waikato Regional Theatre project,” said Mr Richardson.

Leonard Gardner, the outgoing Momentum Waikato Chair, is the CEO of Foster Construction, so stopped participating in all theatre-related discussions in December 2019, in order to avoid any conflict of interest that might arise as the Waikato Regional Property Trust, which will own and govern the operation of the Waikato Regional Theatre, initiated the tender process for contracting the Theatre construction.

Mr Gardner then resigned entirely from Momentum Waikato in February 2020, when Foster Construction was formally asked by the Waikato Regional Property Trust to submit a tender for the theatre build. This process is still underway and the successful tender will be announced, by the Waikato Regional Property Trust, at the end of March. 

Meanwhile, Momentum Waikato’s independent Board Appointments Panel met on 25 February and endorsed the appointment of two new Trustees, with the Momentum Waikato Board accepting their recommendations for its new members at its meeting this morning, 18 March.

Alan Livingston and Leaupepe Rachel Karalus have filled the positions vacated by the departures of Leonard Gardner and Parekawhia Maclean, who stepped down in July 2019.

“To be able to replace Parekawhia and Leonard’s extensive skills, commitment and input to our organisation with the abilities, experience and passion of Rachel and Alan is a great opportunity to take us from our rapid start-up phase into delivering sustained transformational change in our region,” said Mr Richardson.

Alan is a well-known local body politician elected to office over 24 years – 18 years at the Waipa District Council, including 12 years as Mayor, and subsequently with the Waikato Regional Council, which he chaired from 2016. He has also held several governance roles including at Sport Waikato, is the Crown appointee to the Waikato River Authority, a life member of the Queen Elizabeth II Trust, and a sheep-and-beef farmer at Te Pahu near Te Awamutu.

Rachel was born in Samoa, is of Samoan descent and moved to Hamilton as a child with her family. Before being appointed as Chief Executive of K’aute Pasifika Trust, she practiced as a litigation lawyer for close to 15 years. During that time, Rachel held governance roles on the board of K’aute Pasifika and Lifeline NZ, and she currently holds executive and board roles with the Hamilton Christian Night Shelter and Child Matters.

Momentum Waikato’s independent Board Appointments Panel is made up of the Chairs of Momentum Waikato and the WEL Energy Trust, a nominee of the Mayors of the Hamilton City, Waikato District and Waipa District Councils, a nominee of the Institute of Directors Waikato Branch, and three members chosen by the Panel itself to achieve the required overall mix of skills, knowledge and experience. It was recently agreed that one of these positions should be chosen in partnership with Waikato Tainui to ensure Maori representation.