Aerial shot of Hamilton Gardens and Waikato River at dusk
Aerial shot of Hamilton Gardens and Waikato River at dusk
About Us / Staff and Kaumaatua

Staff and Kaumaatua

Trust Waikato employs nine staff, all specialists in their area of accountability, working together as a team to support community aspirations. ​

Team Members

  • Dennis Turton - Chief Executive

    Dennis Turton

    Chief Executive

    Dennis Turton - Chief Executive

    Dennis Turton

    Chief Executive

    Dennis’ significant senior management experience holds him in good stead, as Trust Waikato’s Chief Executive, to provide vision, direction and support to the Trust. He also plays an important part in the philanthropic sector at a local and national level, representing the Trust’s views on sector issues and dialogue, and upholding the interests of the communities it serves.

    “For me, it was seeing the significant impact that Trust Waikato can have in the region that drew me to work here. There is great work being carried out in our communities and supporting that work is incredibly fulfilling,” says Dennis.

    Dennis’ other community involvement includes as a committee member at local and national level for the Child Cancer Foundation.

    Contact Dennis:

    dennis@trustwaikato.co.nz 027 482 1206
  • Tame Pokaia - Trust Waikato Kaumaatua

    Tame Pokaia

    Kaumaatua

    Tame Pokaia - Trust Waikato Kaumaatua

    Tame Pokaia

    Kaumaatua

    Tame is from Ngaati Mahuta and Ngaati Hikairo descent, and was born and raised at Ngaaruawaahia. He comes from one of the papakaainga families that lived on Tuurangawaewae marae. He credits growing up on the marae with all the old people as his first place of learning. The experiences and memories gained have been invaluable in his life.

    ​After completing a Diploma in Teaching from Waikato Institute of Technology, Tame started work as a tutor for Wintec’s Maaori Studies Department. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) from the University of Waikato and is in the final stages of completing a two paper dissertation for his Master of Arts.

    Tame has a real interest in the pursuit of knowledge and undertaking research. Some of his favourite topics include: Tainui history, Kiingitanga, tribal landmarks, raupatu, poukai, paimaarire, ngaa tongi-aa-Taawhiao, and whaikoorero.

    Now residing in Hamilton, Tame has one daughter and four mokopuna. He gets great pleasure from raising their eldest mokopuna Hinatamariki. Tame enjoys family activities, learning, reading, walking, weights, music, and a good barbeque.
  • Mel Blackmore - Business Manager

    Mel Blackmore

    Business Manager

    Mel Blackmore - Business Manager

    Mel Blackmore

    Business Manager

    Mel manages business operations, policy development, and works closely with the Chief Executive in annual planning. She also looks after human resources and when required, deputises for the Chief Executive.

    Waikato born and bred, Mel attended Te Rapa Primary school at its historical site at the Te Rapa Air Force Base and Hamilton Girl’s High School. She then went on to complete her Bachelor of Management Studies at the University of Waikato.

    Mel started at the Trust in 2019, coming to us with a 17 year background working in product, strategy and systems for dairy farmer owned co-operatives.

    “I love the energy that comes from working to strengthen our community. There are many amazing things happening in the Waikato and I am privileged to be a part of that.”

    Contact Mel:

    mel@trustwaikato.co.nz 027 609 4457
  • Rongo Kirkwood - Pouhere Puutea | Grants Manager

    Rongo Kirkwood

    Pouhere Puutea | Grants Manager

    Rongo Kirkwood - Pouhere Puutea | Grants Manager

    Rongo Kirkwood

    Pouhere Puutea | Grants Manager

    Rongo Kirkwood is of Ngaati Mahuta descent, and draws strength from her whaanau, hapuu and iwi.

    She works closely with community and iwi groups that are seeking Trust Waikato funding in the areas of Significant Capital Projects, Impact Grants, Maaori, Pacific and environmental initiatives. Rongo also delivers marae-based funding workshops throughout the Waikato region.

    Having completed her degree in te reo Maaori and Maaori development, Rongo was drawn to work for Trust Waikato, due to the opportunities it presented for “helping make the Waikato a great place to live, work and play.”

    “I’m particularly interested in rangatahi, whaanau and kaumaatua initiatives that support and future-proof the aspirations of iwi within the region,” says Rongo.

    Rongo is the Chair of the Maaori Advisory Committee of Philanthropy New Zealand.

    Contact Rongo:

    rongo@trustwaikato.co.nz 021 745 016
  • Maggie Zhang - Finance and Investment Manager

    Maggie Zhang CA

    Finance and Investment Manager

    Maggie Zhang - Finance and Investment Manager

    Maggie Zhang CA

    Finance and Investment Manager

    Maggie joined Trust Waikato in July 2018. Her role is to look after the finance and investment of the Trust, ensuring operational agility.

    She comes with experience in both the commercial accounting field and not-for-profit sector. Maggie is a Chartered Accountant and she is passionate about adding value to communities and helping them achieve their goals.

    “I am proud of being part of the Trust Waikato team, doing our best to make our community a better place.”

    Originally from China, Maggie came to New Zealand in 2008. She is fluent in both English and Mandarin.

    Contact Maggie:

    maggie@trustwaikato.co.nz 021 0255 8163
  • Tarita Templeton - Pou Aarahi | Community Engagement Advisor

    Tarita Templeton

    Pou Aarahi | Community Engagement Advisor

    Tarita Templeton - Pou Aarahi | Community Engagement Advisor

    Tarita Templeton

    Pou Aarahi | Community Engagement Advisor

    Tarita joined the Trust Waikato team in 2010. Originally the Trust's Communications Manager, she took up the role of Grants Advisor in 2017. Tarita works with our Pasifika and ethnic communities, and in the social services, arts and culture, and economic development sectors.

    In her work, Tarita facilitates funding workshops, visits community groups, advocates for projects, assesses funding applications, and networks and coordinates events within the broader funding community.

    It’s a role she describes as being ‘privileged’ to hold. “I really enjoy working in the community, and learning about the many wonderful projects happening throughout our region,” Tarita says.

    Tarita has a passion for life-long learning and enjoys the arts - dance, music and all things creative.

    Contact Tarita:

    tarita@trustwaikato.co.nz 021 776 748
  • Nita McNeil - Pou Hono | Database and Information Manager

    Nita McNeil

    Pou Hono | Database and Information Manager

    Nita McNeil - Pou Hono | Database and Information Manager

    Nita McNeil

    Pou Hono | Database and Information Manager

    Nita was appointed as the Trust’s Database and Information Manager in November 2016. Her role involves managing the donation application process and database, and providing helpdesk support to groups applying for funding online via our website.

    She has extensive experience in database management, both in New Zealand and overseas, and enjoys refining complex systems into user-friendly processes.

    Born and bred in Coromandel, Nita currently splits her time between Hamilton and Waihi, where her family are based.

    Contact Nita:

    nita@trustwaikato.co.nz 022 030 0565
  • Danielle Lorberbaum - Communications Manager

    Danielle Lorberbaum

    Communications Manager

    Danielle Lorberbaum - Communications Manager

    Danielle Lorberbaum

    Communications Manager

    Danielle was born and bred in California before moving to Hamilton in 2015 following a semester-long exchange at the University of Waikato whilst completing her degree in Public Relations and Advertising.

    She now lives on a farm outside of Gordonton with a growing collection of animals. Her background includes grants coordination and varied in-house marketing roles for family businesses and international brands.

    "I am just so proud to be part of a team and organisation that empowers our communities for a better future," says Danielle.

    As Trust Waikato's Communications Manager, she manages all digital campaigns, communicates funding opportunities, organises impact events and shares the wonderful community initiatives happening across the Waikato region.

    Danielle is passionate about community contribution and is a trustee of the Hamilton Christmas Charitable Trust.

    Contact Danielle:

    danielle@trustwaikato.co.nz 027 318 1464
  • Jasmin Aldworth - Business Services Coordinator

    Jasmin Aldworth

    Business Services Coordinator

    Jasmin Aldworth - Business Services Coordinator

    Jasmin Aldworth

    Business Services Coordinator

    Jasmin was born and raised in the Waikato, growing up in the small township of Arapuni when the primary school existed with a total role of about 26 students in two classrooms, then later moving on to Ohaupo and Hamilton. "I am of Maaori - Ngaati Maahanga, and Paakeha - English and Scottish decent. My heritage is something I am still discovering and learning about, and is also something I am very proud of."

    Jasmin started as the Trust’s Office Coordinator in 2018 then moved into the role of Business Services Coordinator in 2020. Jasmin says she considers herself extremely lucky to be part of such a fantastic organisation as Trust Waikato and has met so many great people during her time here. "The people here are truly passionate about helping our communities and making a difference.”

    Jasmin’s role is responsible for overseeing the management of the community meeting rooms, property maintenance, health and safety, and providing support services to the Trust Board.

    Contact Jasmin:

    jasmin@trustwaikato.co.nz 022 050 0993

See the faces behind Trust Waikato

Our trustees are kaitiaki for the Trust funds.