We have some amazing people working with us at the Centre for Social Impact and from time to time we will profile them.  Our first profile is of our Associate Kate Cherrington (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Kapotai, Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Pākehā)

Kate's 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 nurturing emerging community leaders and values-based leadership practice.

Kate has experience in education management and policy development, quality assurance management, Māori language programme development, and wānanga development. Kate is a trustee of Miria Marae in Waiomio and is Northland Polytechnic council member.  

She also serves as a board member on the USA-based NGOs; Ka Honua Mōmona International ( Moloka'I, Hawai'i) and Americans for Indian Opportunity (New Mexico).

What drew you into the area of work that you are in?

I have a mentor based in the States, who was a programme leader in the Kellogg Foundation in Michigan.  Twenty years ago when I first met her working with Native communities across America, I understood the impact that philanthropy could have.  In the back of my mind I said  ‘when I grow up I am going to be like Aunty Val’.   Then over the years my husband and I and a group of friends had opportunities to work with groups from the US, massive foundations  like Ford and Kellogg brought the best teachers and designers of those language immersion programmes to New Zealand and I would travel with them and show them the fantastic things we were doing.

What was your first contact with the Centre for Social Impact? 

I was invited along to a Māori Women’s Caucus to discuss the Māori and Pacific Education Project, its final investment around the development of young Māori women.  We met over six to nine months,  and I met Fiona Cram and Moi Becroft and Moe Milne. Then I learnt about CSI and it was around building capacity and communities, and evaluation I went ‘that’s exactly what I want to do.’ I just fell in love a little bit with the people here and saw the passion and how they were trying to provide a way of supporting communities to access the skills and experience that sits in 50 Ponsonby Road.

In addition to CSI, you have a number of other professional commitments?

I am still on boards in the States for non-profits,  I sit on some governance groups here, and work in Alaska with a whole bunch of non-profits too. 

What is at the heart of your commitment to this work?

My agenda is to provide access for communities to support.  There is so much happening out there, there is innovation, there is creativity, there is tenacity, there is survival going on in very creative ways in our communities.  My agenda is to connect what happens in our wonderful diverse communities back here to the Centre, and to Foundation North.  I am also here to learn.  The philanthropic sector - it’s a whole new language.

What are the differences you want to see emerge for our communities over the next 10, 15, 20 years?

I am super clear that philanthropy is about families, whanau, leading through their culture and self-sustaining practice.  I want to see philanthropy having invested in the truly innovative community-created ideas.  I hope that we get to invest in ideas that Government will not be able to. I want to see us help provide a way for community to prototype, to test, to pilot, to try out, to fail, to grow.

Tell me about something you have seen which you hold in your heart that inspires you?

The establishment of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, the second largest tertiary institution in the country and I had the privilege of growing alongside of it as a young adult woman.  Originally there was just a tin shed on a dump.  So I’ve got to be part of a founding group that created that institute.

The second thing I’ve seen and this is very way out on left field, but the United Nations Declarations and Right of Indigenous People. I had the privilege of witnessing in Bolivia how they implemented that within their  Constitution.  Finally, last year I sat with these young Urutapu women in Kawiti Caves and saw our future looking very very bright with the investment in their ability to lead.  The impact is not going to be felt after 2 years of the programme, it’s going to be 10 years, 20 years down the track, but I could see it. 

I’ve also seen other really awesome stuff, all the other potential programmes that could possibly come through here, it’s exciting.  It’s really, really exciting.