Changing of the Guard at Trust House A Watershed
The appointment of Mena Antonio as President of Trust House marks a turning point for one of Wairarapa’s most established and important organisations.
Ms Antonio replaces Jock Kershaw as Chairman of Trust House Limited and Trust House Foundation.
She is the first woman to hold the most elective positions in the community-owned organization.
One of New Zealand’s largest community housing providers, Trust House owns, operates and manages 483 rental properties in Wairarapa and Tararua. It also owns and operates a range of businesses in the Lower North Island, including crossover bars, a large hotel (Copthorne Solway Park in Masterton) and a boutique hydro project. Through the Masterton Community Trust, Trust House distributes profits, from gaming revenue, to the community in the form of grants and sponsorship.
The organization dates back to 1947. It took more than 65 years before women were elected to positions of governance. Today, four of the six board members are women.
The latest governance changes, initiated by Mr Kershaw’s resignation, also include the appointment of Bex Johnson to the board, joining Lucy Griffiths and Toni Kennerley (an independent). The other board members are David Henry and Stuart Campbell (both are independent appointments).
Also noteworthy is the diversity within the organization’s leadership hierarchy; Ms. Antonio is Pasifika and the Managing Director Charles Kaka is Maori.
Ms. Antonio said she was honored to have been elected President.
“I think this represents a cultural shift within the organization that has been underway for several years,” Ms. Antonia says.
“It also reaffirms the increased importance the organization places on housing outcomes.”
This shift gained momentum when Charles Kaka was appointed chief executive in mid-2020, replacing Allan Pollard, she says.
“What drives me is the belief that we don’t service homes, we serve our tenants and serve our customers.”
Ms Antonio is also chief executive of the Catholic social justice agency Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.
Jock Kershaw says he feels “very privileged” to have been involved with the Trust House Group for the past 21 years.
He was first elected in 2001 as a trustee of the Masterton Licensing Trust now known as the Masterton Community Trust (MCT). He was a director for 14 years, seven of which as president.
Mr Kershaw signaled earlier this year that he would not seek re-election and so it made sense to step down to give his successor time to adjust before the next local election, he says. Mr Kershaw will remain a trustee of the Masterton Community Trust until the October election.
“I think I’ve left the company in a better financial position than when I was appointed chairman,” says Kershaw.
“I am confident that the remaining Trustees and Trustees will continue to lead the Trust House Group at the highest level in association with the management team.”
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