He Korowai Trust has a record of inspiring social innovation.  Under the leadership of Ricky Houghton (Ngāti Kahu and Ngāti Whātua), the trust has made a difference to communities in and around Kaitaia since 2001 in health, housing, financial literacy and restorative justice.  Its latest venture is the Sweet As Maori Trade Training Academy. 

Sweet As (Students Without Education Employment Training Achieving Succeeding) aims to support unemployed Māori youth into full-time trades training and employment.  A two million dollar grant from Foundation North to help Ricky and the He Korowai team establish the academy has been backed by support from the Foundation for the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) to help strengthen this growing organisation and support it to deliver on its kaupapa.

Dain Guttenbeil leads the CSI relationship with Ricky and He Korowai.

“He Korowai is all about delivering ordinary services in extraordinary ways for whānau of the Far North,” Dain says.  “In this context, the Sweet As Academy is about more than just trade training.  It will help deliver innovative housing, employment and skill development solutions for young people of the Far North within the korowai of social services and pastoral care that He Korowai is known known for.

“The academy is an integral part of a thorough social and economic development model developed by He Korowai in the Far North.”

Dain’s involvement began with Foundation North’s Key Community Partnership (KCP) programme and grew through He Korowai’s entry into Foundation North’s Catalysts for Change programme.  This programme combines grants with CSINZ support to organisations to build their capacity to deliver on their vision.

“The brief from Foundation North to the Centre was to support the trust to take the conceptual design of the Sweet As Academy into an implementation phase with the ambitious target of launching on March 5th 2018.”

Four key areas for CSI support were identified. 

  • Strengthening the trust’s core
    • Refinement of operating processes and procedures for He Korowai and the Sweet-As Academy
    • Implementation of technology-driven financial systems, accounting and reporting

“He Korowai is a rapidly expanding and moving entity,” Dain says.  “Strong core systems are essential for sustainable long-term growth.”

  • Organisational Design
    • Support to the CEO and Board relating to organisational design to meet strategic intent and operational needs of He Korowai with the creation of Sweet-As Academy.
  • Governance in context
    • Co-designed and emergent support for the new He Korowai Trust Board and its function within the trust’s values, strategy and intent.

“The challenge here was not simply Governance 101 in respect to fiducial, strategic and generative capacity building, but to identify, develop and grow the governance model and competencies required to manage risk.  We had to achieve that while feeding innovation that is empowered by the values, mission and mandate of He Korowai Trust.”

  • Environmental development
  • The Centre has taken on the role of advocacy in supporting He Korowai to achieve its intent within its operating environment. This has seen the Centre take on a relationship-brokering role for some of He Korowai’s key stakeholders.

“We help the trust build the foundations for long-term partnerships with several stakeholders who share an interest in relieving the considerable social stress in the Kaitaia region relating to housing, poverty and community wellbeing.  These included the Far North District Council, the Ministry of Social Development, and North Tec, which is delivering the core certificate level programme for the Sweet-As Academy. 

“It’s was about opening up communications, engaging these organisations with He Korowai’s vision, and finding common ground around everyone’s shared interest in better social outcomes.”

In addition to the support provided by local stakeholders, Dain was able to draw on the generous support of Microsoft, which has a partnership with the Centre for Social Impact.

“Microsoft has been amazing,” Dain says.  “Through them, the Sweet As Academy has received a considerable amount of technology ranging from computers and monitors, to large-screen TVs, to water filters. These resources will create a technology centre for students who will interface with technology as a standard part of today’s and tomorrow’s building industry.”

The Sweet-As Academy is now up and running towards achieving its two primary outcomes:  40 qualified tradesmen and 40 affordable homes for Kaitaia.

Visit the He Korowai Trust