Trust Waikato building

About Trust Waikato

Our vision

Trust Waikato's vision is for vibrant and resilient Waikato communities

Ko too maatou moemoea kia tipu, kia hua ngaa haapori

Our mission is to invest wisely, grant effectively and to be operationally agile.


The Trust Waikato Strategic Plan sets five and ten-year goals towards achieving transformational change for people, families, communities and places where the need is greatest.

The goal is to achieve impact at a regional level through effective leadership and collaboration. 

Priorities for Impact

Trust Waikato's strategic priorities for impact to improve community outcomes.

The Trust Waikato Region

See a map of the areas across the Waikato region that Trust Waikato funds.

History of Trust Waikato

A background to Trust Waikato and how the Trust was established by the Government.


The Trust Waikato logo

Trust Waikato's brand represents our vision of enabling resilient and vibrant Waikato communities.

It symbolises a collaborative approach, through a woven pattern of communities coming together and rising to face the challenges ahead.


Importantly it represents Te Puna o Waikato - the spring of Waikato - portrayed in an upward, wave-like movement and includes a ‘W’ for ‘Waikato’ in the pattern.  It also has many interpretations including maunga (mountains), awa (river), waka and a fishing net.

If your organisation would like to acknowledge Trust Waikato in your communications and update any digital elements, you can access the logo and brand guidelines here.

The Trust Waikato region

The Trust Waikato funding area incorporates Thames–Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata–Piako, Waipa, Waikato, South Waikato, Waitomo, Otorohanga and Ruapehu districts, and Hamilton city based on the boundaries set through legislation in 1964.

It includes much of the lands of the Tainui waka, and the people of Waikato, Raukawa, Hauraki and Maniapoto iwi.

Trust Waikato Boundaries 2019 Map.JPG

History of Trust Waikato

The early days

The early trustee savings banks originated in Scotland in 1810, enabling anyone – not just the rich – to open a bank account and save. The deposits were owned by the depositors as a co-operative, with any surplus funds used for long-term savings schemes and community charitable projects. New Zealand’s first trustee savings bank opened in Wellington in 1846, followed by another a year later in Auckland.

Over the next 150 years, more trustee banks were established across New Zealand, and they were highly regulated – the banks were only permitted to operate within defined regional boundaries, and they had to provide services to everyone within those boundaries who wanted them. The banks’ profits could only be given to specific Government-approved institutions, like hospitals, libraries and museums or particular social service providers.

Government deregulation

In 1988, the New Zealand Government deregulated the banking industry, opening the way for the regional Trust Banks to compete with bigger trading banks and enable international investment. Ownership of the 12 banks was given to the communities that had built up the asset bases by placing them into community trusts. The operational area of the community trusts mirrored that of the banks’ original territories. In addition, the Government reserved the right to appoint and approve directors and trustees for the community trusts.

Deregulation meant the banks could now operate anywhere, and the 12 banks began to talk about amalgamating.

In June 1986, Taranaki Savings Bank withdrew from the negotiations, and today, as TSB, they are the only bank that has remained under the ownership of its community trust. The ASB Bank also withdrew six months later, and the ASB Bank Community Trust was formed in May 1988, which would go on to own 100% of ASB Bank. Westland Savings Bank also pulled out of the deal and was later absorbed by ASB Bank. In 1986 the ASB Bank Community Trust sold 75% of its shareholding to Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), and the balance in October 2000. ASB Bank Community Trust was renamed Foundation North in 2015.

The remaining nine banks became Trust Bank New Zealand Limited and would go through a number of name changes before being sold to Westpac Banking Corporation in April 1996. This allowed the asset base of investment for each of these community trusts to grow and enabled grants to be returned to the community on a regular basis from the returns on those investments.

Governance and operations

The community trusts operate under individual Trust Deeds, and each trust is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Minister of Finance. Trustees must reside in the specified area of the trust and are appointed for the contribution they can make with skills and community knowledge. They are tasked with providing good governance, and each board meets regularly to discuss grants, investments, finance, audit and risk management and any other governance issues that may arise. Board members also regularly attend community events on behalf of the trust.

Each community trust has a Chief Executive or General Manager, and staff with expertise in philanthropy, grantmaking, research, finance, communications and marketing, and administration.  The number of staff varies with the size of the trust.

With an aggregate investment portfolio of over $3.7 billion, the community trusts are a significant investment presence. While TSB Community Trust’s initial book value of its asset investments was $10 million, this has grown over 30 years to a market value of its assets in excess of $1 billion. Foundation North’s total investments to date are in excess of $1.4 billion. Each trust has an independent investment advisor helping guide the trust’s investment processes, and the trusts share investment information and experience with each other.

The community trusts were set up to run in perpetuity, so trustees keep an eye on their investments to balance the needs of communities in the short and long term. Enabling growth today, and for future generations, takes research, and the occasional leap of faith, to enable a consistent flow of grants to the community.

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Trustees of the Waikato Community Trust 1997 - 1998.

Back Row: Lynne Holder, Monica Leggat, Leonie Tisch 

Middle Row: David Bay, Ken Gordon (Chief Executive), Rob Feisst, Ian Gear

Front Row: Roger Stanich, Jim Grace, David Braithwaite (Chairperson), Tony Steel, Neil Clarke

(Absent: Malcom Brooker, Lorraine Storey)

Combined Community Trusts of New Zealand

There are 12 community trusts across New Zealand that make up the Combined Community Trusts of New Zealand:

Giving back to the community

Over the last 30 years, the community trusts have given back approximately $2 billion to New Zealand communities. These grants range in size including small one-off grants, regular annual operating grants for community organisations, and large capital grants for one-off major community projects.

The Government established Trust Waikato by statute in 1988, to hold and manage the shares of Trust Bank Waikato. In 1996, Trust Waikato left banking and the shares were sold, with the proceeds of the sale invested. Since 1988 Trust Waikato has managed those investments, using a portion of the profits each year to support community groups and projects throughout the Waikato region.

Trust Waikato Art and Taonga Collection

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In 1999 Trust Waikato began collecting art and taonga of significance to the Waikato region. In October 2015, the collection of 260 pieces, was gifted to the Waikato Museum.


This book Treasures of the Waikato includes all the art and taonga in the Trust Waikato collection as at 2015. The Trust continues to support the museum to grow the collection.