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Rongo Kirkwood Awarded PNZ Lifetime Membership


Rongo Kirkwood, Trust Waikato’s Pouhere Puutea - Strategic Grants Advisor, has been honoured with a Lifetime Membership for Philanthropy New Zealand (PNZ).

She gratefully accepts the membership on behalf of the Maaori Advisory Committee of PNZ.

“It is with our combined efforts that we have achieved a lot with Philanthropy New Zealand,” says Rongo, “and I’ve really valued how Philanthropy New Zealand has created a space for Maaori voices. A Maaori lens now exists to progress the work that’s being done towards an equitable Aotearoa.”

The Maaori Advisory Committee take inspiration from a whakataukii from Pekaira Rei:

“Te pono, te tika, te maaramatanga me te aroha anoo o teetehi ki teetehi”.

This saying refers to “the truth, the trust, the understanding and the unconditional love we have for each other”. If we refer to love as the waka on which trust travels, the trust we have for each other as passengers on the waka, and embrace the truth - that the waka journey will not always be smooth sailing, we can see that through the faith of our collective trust, we will eventually land safely at a destination where equity prevails.


The Maaori Advisory Committee is made up of Aroha Harris Pou Aarahi – Foundation North, Cyril Howard Regional Development and Donations Manager – The Tindall Foundation, Keri Wanoa Manutaki Whai Hua Maaori – TSB Community Trust, Marama Takao Pou Aarahi – J R McKenzie Trust, Pekaira Rei - PNZ Kaumatua, Seumas Fantham, Chief Executive – Todd Foundation, Steve Merito Maaori and Pasifika Engagement Advisor – Raataa Foundation, Rongo Kirkwood Pouhere Puutea/ Strategic Grants Advisor – Trust Waikato and Whetu Campbell from Wellington Community Trust.


Key developments from the Maaori Advisory Committee include:

  • setting and delivering tikanga, protocols and Maaori content at PNZ events and workshops

  • shared networks with PNZ to develop relationships with key Maaori stakeholders

  • co-designing the professional development offering to the sector on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and grant making

  • continually acting as a ‘sounding board’ for PNZ staff considering engagement with Maaori or indigenous issues.


Every day Rongo takes inspiration from Kiingitanga leader Te Puea Herangi, who is on her laptop screen.


“She reminds me of why I am here and what we are working towards, an equitable Aotearoa. Te Puea set the template through an extremely hard work ethic and expressing positive aspirations for what is possible. She developed strong strategic relationships and used a strengths-based approach to elevate our people to a better place”.


Rongo acknowledges support from the PNZ board, team and members, and the many leaders in the philanthropic whaanau from across Aotearoa. She also recognises the support she has had from Dennis Turton, Chief Executive of Trust Waikato.

“Dennis emphasises the importance of the work we are doing, and understands that if Maaori thrive we all thrive.”

Moving forward Rongo believes that it is only through lived experience, and long-held relationships based on high trust, that organisations can truly benefit from the depth of perspective and experience that Maaori have.

“Now is the time to put real and true trust into Maaori leadership, so we can lead from the front” says Rongo.

He rawe Rongo.