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Trust Waikato building

Trust Waikato History

Trust Waikato History

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

Trust Waikato art and taonga book

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. The collection can be viewed online here.


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.

Community Trusts History

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. 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

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.

Trustees 1988 - photo

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)

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