New chair for South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT)

Stephen Veitch, the newly appointed Chief Executive of Waikato Innovation Park, today becomes Chair of South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT) at its annual general meeting, taking over from Bruce Sherman who has been on the SWIFT board since 2018 and Chairperson since 2019.

Kate Searancke, a lawyer who became a member of the SWIFT board in November 2022, will take over as Deputy Chair, replacing Dean Gittings who has served on the board since 2018. John Cronin, a founding SWIFT board member since 2014 and former Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair, as well as Bruce Sherman and Dean Gittings, are retiring from the board.

Mr 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 that is due to open in July and will be run by Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, one of the Te Pūkenga network of 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics across Aotearoa.

Mr Veitch said retiring Chair Bruce 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.

“SWIFT was created in 2014 with a fund derived from the sale of PowerCo shares to drive economic benefit across the South Waikato. 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.

“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.”

Mr 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 driving licence training for all local High School students
  • The Generation forestry training programme in partnership with the Central North Island Wood Council, Te Uru Rākau (New Zealand Forest Service), Forest Growers Levy Trust, the South Waikato District Council, and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
  • Training scholarships through Toi Ohomai
  • A partnership with WorkIT, the South Waikato District Council’s employment agency for young people

Mr Veitch says SWIFT’s five-year strategic plan is focused on supporting economic growth and community benefits in South Waikato including:

  • Managing and leveraging SWIFT’s current portfolio of investments to deliver the best outcomes for South Waikato
  • Supporting South Waikato’s existing industries and established businesses to succeed and grow
  • Working with South Waikato’s key industries to ensure they can access the workforce and skills they need to succeed

SWIFT’s longer term strategic priorities from 2024 will also include:

  • Making the case for the infrastructure needed to support the growth of the South Waikato economy
  • Developing South Waikato’s sectors of comparative advantage to create a productive and resilient economy
  • Attracting new investment into South Waikato to deepen our capabilities and support new employment opportunities

Latest News

Get in Touch

Give us a call, send us a message or call in and see us.  We’d love to hear from you.