SkyCity Hamilton Community Trust Update - June 18 2020

The impacts and experiences of Covid19 on our communities are at the forefront of the Trustees minds. The Trust is using this time to re-evaluate the funding strategy and priorities to ensure it is better able to support the Waikato and Bay of Plenty communities moving through the recovery and rebuilding phases. We anticipate being able to update you over the next few weeks, in relation to the opening date, criteria and guidelines. 

Please check the website regularly.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Ngā mihi,

SkyCity Community Trust Team

(09) 3637005


SkyCity Hamilton Community Trust

The SkyCity Hamilton Community Trust is proud to contribute to the local community of Hamilton and the wider Waikato region by supporting many worthy organisations, both large and small.

To date, the SkyCity Hamilton Community Trust has granted over $9.5 million to more than 1,754 community organisations that have undertaken community assistance and development work in the greater Waikato area.

For the year ended 30 June 2019, SkyCity Hamilton Limited contributed NZ$768,765 to the SkyCity Hamilton Community Trust.

Corporate Social Responsibility

SkyCity Entertainment Group

Claire Walker

Chief People and Culture Officer


The SkyCity Hamilton Community Trust is committed to supporting families to thrive and communities to prosper.

To achieve this, the Trust prioritises funding to organisations whose work will achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  1. Financial Capability

Families are financially confident, independent and can mitigate debt and debt-causing behaviours.

  1. Employment and Economic Prosperity for Families

Families can generate their own income through the attainment and/or enhancement of work-related skills and training, enterprise and access to work.

  1. Pathways to Employment and Economic Prosperity

Young people are supported to thrive at every stage of their development towards a successful and prosperous adulthood.

Children, young people and families have access to education, are supported in educational pathways and achieve educational success.

  1. Healthy and Stable Families

Families develop attitudes, behaviours and skills that play a positive role in improving their health, safety and resilience.

Priority target groups

We prioritise funding to support the following target groups:

  1. Children, young people, single parents and/or those living in a low income household.
  2. Those living in areas of high deprivation across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.
  3. Those with few or no qualifications, low literacy levels, and/or beneficiaries.



 to more than 1,754 charitable organisations that have undertaken community assistance and development work in the greater Waikato area.


For the year ended 30 June 2019, SkyCity Hamilton Limited contributed NZ$768,765 to the SkyCity Hamilton Community Trust.

How to Apply

Applications for the SkyCity Hamilton Community Trust have closed for 2019 and will reopen in July 2020.

For any questions you may have, please email


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 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


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 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 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.


Michelle Baillie


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 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.



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".