Our trustees have backgrounds in local government, social services, publishing, Maori affairs, business and tourism and are all Waikato proud.

Kate Cherrington - Chairperson

Kate Cherrington

Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Kapotai, Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Pākehā

Kate works across education, community strategy and advancement projects in Aotearoa. She is currently an associate with The Centre for Social Impact based alongside Foundation North in Auckland. Her roles at the Centre include relationship manager, organisational capacity builder and advisor on strategy development and implementation. Kate specialises in working with groups with a kaupapa Māori focus in education and community strategy, and advancement projects. Her passion is in nurturing emerging community leaders and values-based leadership practice.

Kate is a trustee of Miria marae in Waiomio and serves on Te Manawatoopu the working group for Te Maara a Hineamaru, the governance for Te Runanga o Ngāti Hine. She was the Kāhui Ariki representative on the Waikato Conservation Board, from April 2014-June 2017, is a Council member with NorthTec (Northland Polytechnic) in Whangarei, trustee of Te Putea Whakatupu and provides support to current young iwi leaders in the Advancement of Māori Opportunity (AMO) network across Aotearoa. She is a board member for Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) based in Albuquerque and is also the International Consultant for Te Waka Kai Ora – Māori Organics Aotearoa and a verifier for Hua Parakore – the indigenous verification and validation system for food and related products.

Kate has professional experience in philanthropic strategy and community capacity support, education management, programme and policy development, quality assurance management, Māori language programme development, and wānanga development in NZ. She is a facilitator in the Indigenous Leaders Interactive System™ (ILIS), a structured dialogue tool to assist community groups across the world in planning for success and solving complex issues. She has been a teacher in Te Kōhanga Reo, a Māori cultural ambassador and a performer in the traditional Māori performing arts.

Amanda Hema

Amanda Hema

Amanda is director of The Stakeholder Agency, a company which specialises in helping Waikato organisations build fruitful relationships, proactively collaborate and explore strategic partnerships. With a strong background in public sector management, Amanda is passionate about regional development and community empowerment. Amanda also manages The Waikato Plan, a collective of regional leaders from central and local government, iwi, business and community, who explore avenues to work collectively to respond to local aspirations and regional priorities such as housing, youth and wellbeing. Amanda also chairs Creative Waikato and has an enduring interest in the performing arts, is the mother of two delightful boys and is often found enjoying the Waikato River Trails and Lake Karapiro.

Aisha Ross

Aisha Ross

Ngāruahine, Taranaki and Te Ati Awa

As the Director Innovation and Development Group at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Aisha leads initiatives such as Kōkiri Māori-led business accelerator, Pakihi programme, and newly launched Ahikōmako Centre of Māori Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Focused on igniting Māori start-up and business success. He has proven capability in building high performing teams and successful businesses. Strategically focused and deeply kaupapa committed, he has an extensive governance and management background and is accomplished in business strategy, sales and marketing. He has held a number of governance roles in the brand marketing, dairy, fishery, and property sectors. He is a Waikato University MBA graduate and Masters of Technological Futures graduate (2020).

Kawena Jones

Kawena Jones

Kawena began his governance journey in 2013 on the Hamilton City Council’s Youth Advisory Board. Kawena now sits on a number of Trusts and committees including Te Ahurei Rangatahi Trust, Young Workers Resource Centre and Oomaero Marae to name a few. A self-starter who is people & results-focused combined with strong business acumen, Kawena co-founded ‘Taurikura’ a social enterprise committed to supporting organisations to build their cultural sustainability. Kawena is passionate about advancing employment and education outcomes and is the Pathways coordinator at Rototuna High School as well as contracting to numerous organisations. Kawena brings to the Trust experience in strategic iwi and cross agency collaboration, relationship management and programme development and design.

Manaaki Nepia

Manaaki Nepia

Manaaki is a proud Māori woman of Waikato Tainui descent, and a mother of 2 talented and caring young Māori men aged 20 and 13. She is the wife of 17 years to Jason Nepia who she describes as her ‘soulmate’. Manaaki is passionate about Māori wellbeing and firmly believes in order to achieve positive and equitable outcomes for Māori, we need leadership and need to focus on the outcomes that matter; and we need to remain firmly fixed on the empowerment of Whanau/Hapu/Iwi in the architect and design of their own destinies.

Manaaki has held senior leadership, management and advisory roles within a number of directorates at the Ministry of Health and spent time as the Service Development Manager for the Waikato District Health Board. Manaaki has strong experience in procurement, having also held the Regional Contracts Manager role (Waikato) at the Ministry of Social Development. Manaaki’s current role is the Strategy and Relationship Manager for Te Whakakitenga o Waikato Tainui. Currently completing a Masters in Development, Manaaki has a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Psychology & Māori and a Post Graduate Diploma in Māori and Pacific Development through the University of Waikato.

Ken Williamson

Ken Williamson

Ken has dedicated his life to community service, serving a wide range of not-for-profit community organisations including St John Ambulance, McKenzie Centre, Te Whakaruruhau Maori Women's Refuge, along with school and tertiary boards. He received a Queens Service Medal, a Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship, and a Hamilton City Award for his services to the community, and was made a Knight of the Order of St John by the Queen. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a JP. Ken also serves as a director on the boards of several Waikato businesses. He a proud Hamiltonian and passionate about the Waikato. He ascribes to Churchill's words, "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give".

Michelle Baillie

Michelle Ballie

Michelle has over 22 years’ experience in the casino and hospitality industries in New Zealand, and has held various senior managerial roles within SkyCity predominantly in casino operations, but also in hotel operations and project management positions. She was a Board member of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce from 2012 - 2013 and was on the Executive Committee of the Hamilton Central Business Association from 2015 – 2016.

Lehi Duncan

Lehi Duncan

Lehi was born and raised in Hamilton, moving to Wellington when he was 20. There, he started his youth development career volunteering as a youth worker with Zeal Education Trust. In 2016, Lehi moved back home to Hamilton and served Waikato-based rangatahi through the role of Regional Manager at Zeal Hamilton.

In 2018, Lehi was a member of the Cross-agency Advisory Panel for the government’s Tomorrow’s Schools education legislation review, and in 2019 gave a TEDx talk at TEDx Ruakura, on what Aotearoa New Zealand’s high schools can learn from youth development kaupapa.

Lehi is now the Regional Relationship Manager for the Midlands region (Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay) with the Ministry of Youth Development – Te Manatu Whakahiato Taiohi./p>