There’s been a changing of the guard at the South Waikato Investment Fund Trust after the retirement of three long-serving board members.
Stephen Veitch, the newly appointed chief executive of Waikato Innovation Park, was appointed chairperson of the trust, known as SWIFT, at a recent annual general meeting. He takes over from Bruce Sherman who has been on the trust’s board since 2018 and was chairperson since 2019.
Kate Searancke, a lawyer who became a member of the board in November 2022, will take over as deputy chairperson, replacing Dean Gittings a board member since 2018.
John Cronin, a founding SWIFT board member since 2014 and former Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairperson, as well as Bruce Sherman and Dean Gittings, are retiring from the board.
Veitch has been a board member since 2019 and has led the trust’s building projects including the $14 million South Waikato Trades Training Centre which is due to open in July and will be run by Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
Veitch said Sherman and his board had led SWIFT through an eventful and productive period that included securing $10.84 million of Government funding for the South Waikato Trades Training Centre and overseeing the construction of the centre and the adjacent Manulife Forestry Management office building.
“Over the last few years Bruce and the board have lifted the skills and professionalism of the trust to ensure the legacy fund is not just protected but has an enduring impact for our community through the key projects we focus on,” Veitch said.
“These changes have included the appointment of Amanda Hema as chief executive in late 2021, a strategic review leading to a new strategic plan, and board succession planning resulting in the appointments late last year of Kate Searancke, James Whetu and Michael Crawford.”
Sherman said the South Waikato district was enjoying an economic and social renaissance, and he was gratified to have been able to play a part.
“It’s fantastic to drive into Tokoroa now and see the South Waikato Trades Training Centre and Manulife building. They make a clear statement that South Waikato is open for business and committed to the development of our young people into meaningful careers.”
SWIFT supports a range of workforce development programmes in the South Waikato district, including access to free driver licence training for local high school students, the Generation forestry training programme, and Toi Ohomai trade training scholarships.
Veitch said SWIFT’s five-year strategic plan was focused on supporting economic growth and community benefits in the South Waikato.