A new philanthropic investment fund has been launched in response to the terrorist attacks in Christchurch to provide everyone with the opportunity to support community inclusion and dialogue in the Waikato.
The Waikato Inclusion Fund — embracing our diverse communities / He aroha na Waikato — Haapaingia ngā hapori tuakiri manomano has been established by the Momentum Waikato Community Foundation with $50,000 allocated from its endowment fund.
The new fund will support projects and programmes that build and celebrate greater understanding and acceptance between Waikato communities, and is already welcoming and encouraging donations from people and organisations from all walks of life.
"Our hearts go out to our fellow New Zealanders — the survivors and the families of the victims of the atrocities at the mosques in Christchurch," says Momentum Waikato CEO Kelvyn Eglinton.
"To them and everybody in Christchurch, we stand with you, and offer our aroha, love, appreciation and support at this terrible time. The Waikato Inclusion Fund will be a resource committed to fostering the inclusion of all cultures, religions, orientations and genders in our region.
"We hope to do our bit towards building the positive legacy of a better, kinder Aotearoa-New Zealand for everyone." The move is welcomed by local community leaders.
"On behalf of the Waikato Muslim Association, it is a pleasure to be a part of a project which intends to build upon community cohesion, and engagement," says Dr Asad Mohsin, the association's president.
"Such opportunities help to develop better understanding and greater integration with the wider community. It is an excellent effort and we fully support it.
The Waikato Chinese Association welcomes all initiatives that grow knowledge of different cultures and celebrate our diversity," says May Low, the association's vice-president membership.
"Our region enjoys a diverse community. Initiatives that acknowledge and create opportunities for our diversity to surface, flourish, be maintained and celebrated are welcomed by K'aute Pasifika," says the trust's CEO Leaupepe Rachel Karalus.
"Such initiatives break down walls, disarm prejudice and bias, help overcome barriers, and promote the building of empathy and connectedness across all society."
"Waikato as a region is changing at a rapid pace," says Ellie Wilkinson, Hamilton Migrant Services trust operations manager. The local ethnic communities have for many years been looking for ways to engage in a deeper and more meaningful way with the wider communities.
HMS Trust welcomes the opportunity to be part of this initiative and response which aims to grow the seeds of inclusiveness, empathy, tolerance and cohesion and to eliminate the deep roots of discrimination, racism and prejudice."
Waikato-Tainui have also expressed their support for the Inclusion Fund and will be issuing their own statement. Momentum Waikato will also be reaching out to other communities and organisations not yet contacted to introduce the initiative.
Like the successful Waikato Women's Fund, Momentum Waikato will manage the new fund's investment programme, legal obligations and administration, while an independent and diverse establishment group will set up its ongoing governance body, which in turn will distribute grants from its investment income to community-based inclusion initiatives.
Mr Eglinton says Hamilton is one of New Zealand's most diverse and culturally rich cities, and the Waikato is home to every kind of human being.
"As a community we still have much to do to ensure that everyone can fully participate, be heard and feel safe and appreciated here.
"It is clear from discussions we've all had in the last week that the city and the region want to do more, indeed should have done more, to facilitate inclusion and banish alienation. So Momentum Waikato, as the region's community foundation, has committed to this pro-active platform for local change."
Community Connectedness was the number one issue identified by respondents to the Vital Signs research and consultation programme run by Momentum Waikato in 2016.
Addressing this concern has underpinned much of the foundation's work since and a dedicated inclusion initiative was already being discussed with community leaders, but the Christchurch events has spurred this swift follow-up.
To donate to the new Waikato Inclusion Fund visit momentumwaikato.nz/donate