about us

A group of former South Auckland kids and those with ties to the community has set up The Rising Foundation to assist at-risk-youth to develop to their full potential.

read more


About Us

John Bongard ONZM
Board Chairman

Married to Diane
Children – Sam and Kate
Papakura High School – B Bursary
Bachelor of Commerce (BCom)
ex Auckland University Economics & Marketing (majors)

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit – ONZM, for Services to Business
Awarded in New Years Honours 2010.

Business Career (Fisher & Paykel)
Joined Fisher & Paykel Ltd as purchasing cadet 1973
Group Purchasing Manager
Refrigeration Marketing Manager
General Manager Marketing Whiteware
General Manager Whiteware Group
Managing Director Fisher & Paykel
CEO & Managing Director Fisher & Paykel
Chairman Fisher & Paykel Finance
Retired September 2009

Other Interests

H J Asmuss & Co Director
Chairman South Auckland Partners BNZ
Netball New Zealand Chairman
Counties Manukau Pacific Trust (Vodafone Events Centre) Deputy Chairman
WilliamsWarn Ltd Director
Meridian Energy Director
NARTA Australia Director
PSCTH Thailand Chairman

John Wardrop
Board Trustee

I’m John Wardrop and I’m a passionate believer in The Rising Foundation. I have been married to Annabell for 38 years and have two daughters, Amy and Sara.

Apart from a few years overseas on a working holiday with Annabell, I have called Papakura/Takanini home for all but the last 4 months of my 60 years. I did all of my schooling in Papakura and followed this up by completing a panelbeating apprenticeship and a stint making aluminium and steel joinery. All of my sporting and club interests have been South Auckland linked.

In 1979 I joined Fisher & Paykel Appliances as a Purchasing Officer  where I remained until I retired in 2009.   During my 30 years with the Company  I held various Senior Executive positions in Procurement, Logistics, Operations, Cost Out and HR. I am a Board Member of Worldskills NZ, an organisation that promotes trade and technical excellence for young adults.

I see The Rising as a vehicle that can  turn around some of the negative prejudices that go with being ‘South Auckland’ by giving at-risk-youth the chance to recognise and develop their positive potential.

Peter Goldsmith
Board Trustee

Of Ngati Porou descent born and raised on the East Coast. Educated at Te Aute College and trained as a teacher through Ardmore Teachers College in Papakura. Represented Counties, NZ Maori, NZ Barbarians, and an All Black Trialist in rugby. Coached clubs, schools, and the Counties Premier Rugby Team.

I have lived in South Auckland most of my life but have worked across Auckland in Teaching, Sports Management, Local Politics, and a host of Governance roles:
Coaching Director Auckland Rugby
CEO North Harbour Rugby
CEO Counties Manukau Sport
General Manager SPARC
Director Goldsmith Consulting
Papakura District Councillor & Deputy Mayor
Chair Rosehill College
Chair Ardmore Marist Rugby Club
Chair Touch NZ
Chair Safer Papakura Trust
Independent Director NZ Maori Rugby Board
Chair Papakura High School

My knowledge of South Auckland schools as a teacher and governor, my experience as a CEO and Chair have given me the experience required to contribute to The Rising Foundation.

Richard Jeffery ONZM
Board Trustee

Richard Jeffery was the founding CEO of Second Nature Charitable Trust established in 2000.

He is now a professional Company Director based in Central Hawkes Bay with his wife Michelle and still has an active involvement and passion for youth within South Auckland and further afield.

While at Second Nature Charitable Trust, he spearheaded raising of nearly $100 million to establish two community facilities in South Auckland, namely the Vodafone Events Centre which opened in 2000 that has since seen the delivery of some of New Zealand’s largest school and community programmes for more than four million people, and the Vector Wero Whitewater Park which opened in 2016. The Whitewater Park has provided youth programmes accessed by more than 11,000 school children and a world-class facility for elite athletes, including functioning as an international standard training ground for Canoe Slalom New Zealand. In his role as CEO he has established the largest free schools programme in New Zealand for the performing arts, which now attracts 36,000 students a year. In 2010 he established his own private fund called the Rangahua Fund, which provided scholarships to young people to undertake social worker diplomas to help them serve their communities. Richard was founder and Chairman of the Manukau Arts Festival from 2008 to 2010.


In 2018 Queens Birthday Honours, Richard was awarded the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit – ONZM, for Services to Governance and Community.

Kay Spencer
Board Trustee

Kay is the Executive Chairman of buying group, NARTA, the National Association of Retail Traders of Australia.  An accomplished leader, Kay joined NARTA in 1998 after rising through the ranks at Sharp Corporation of Australia where she became the first female director in a Japanese company.  Kay also held the position of Sharp’s general manager – sales and marketing.

Under Kay’s leadership at NARTA, the organisation’s annual turnover has grown from $350 million to more than $3.4 billion.  Today NARTA is the largest buying group of independent retailers in Australia and New Zealand.

Although Kay now lives in Australia, she is a Kiwi by birth, born and grew up in Kakatahi, New Zealand.  Kay travels to NZ frequently, and regularly spends time with family in the Wanganui area.

Kay has experience within the not for profit sector, having been a director for Hands Across the Water since 2009. As an accomplished leader, Kay brings to The Rising Foundation her extensive knowledge of both the business and charity sectors, as well as compassion and care for the children.

Lady Sarah Fay
Board Trustee

I was introduced to the Rising through a meeting of the founders, John and Diane Bongard. I became involved with the Rising because I wished to help children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and who could possibly become some of our future leaders – at all levels and in all industries – and make a difference to their communities if given the opportunity.

I have spent most of the last year going to South Auckland on Tuesdays to attend the lunch time meetings of these children. I have also attended several of the camps run by the Programme Director.

I have come to know quite a few of the students in the programme and have seen massive changes in all of them. The camps are a key part of this organisation and I have seen these children change in the camp environment and show a deal of self respect, trust and become a good human being.

The Rising is about courage and giving these students the courage to change and being given a set of tools for life.
I love doing anything I can to help.
I am on the fund-raising committee.

Sam Bongard
Board Trustee

I grew up in Takanini and I’m a passionate South Aucklander. I went to Saint Kentigern College and went on to University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in Economics and International Business. My business career has been in Appliance Retail, where I have been with several retailers in my career. I have held different roles that vary from a Salesperson Role, National Trainer Role, Department Manager Role and Store Manager Role. I am now with a company called Appliance Connexion that is the largest New Zealand independent cooperative buying group for Appliances and owner of the 1OO% Appliances brand. I hold the role of National Whiteware and Seasonal Product Buyer.

I want to be involved The Rising Foundation in any way I can, as I believe in the unique approach that works so well and how it is involved every day in the schools and communities, to help kids find their positive path in life.

Diane Bongard

Diane is the Treasurer and is also on the fund-raising committee. She also assists our Programme Administrator in some of the administration work.

Alex Tarrant
General Manager

Alex has joined The Rising Foundation in the role of General Manager and has been tasked with supporting our team to guide their personal and professional development and to review the structure, processes and service provision of The Rising Foundation to ensure that the Students, families and schools that we serve, get the best outcomes possible.
Alex is originally from the UK, is married with three children and has lived in New Zealand for 18 years. He has a 30 year background in Youth work and has served the South Auckland and Franklin communities as a Registered Social Worker with Child Youth and Family and Whirinaki (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) prior to his move to The Rising Foundation.
Alex is also responsible for integrating the excellent Gem Journey Storytelling process into The Rising Foundation’s youth leadership and character development programme.

Donna Rogers
Programme Administrator

Donna has been with TRF since May 2012. She co-ordinates all the applications for funding as well as processes the audit reporting, assists our Programme Director with arranging camps and excursions, processes all accounts, is a member of the fund-raising committee and is the Trustee Board Secretary.

Grace Rawiri
TRF Programme Coordinator

My name is Grace Kingi, I have lived in the Papakura Region, South Auckland my whole life; attending Papakura High School in my previous schooling years. With the assistance of The Rising Foundation I completed my studies last year 2014, gaining a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree.
Having come through the same programme in my early years at secondary level, I have experienced first-hand the benefits and opportunities offered to students of the programme and am fortunate enough to have returned to become a part of The Rising Foundation Team to give back and add value to the programme which had given me so much in terms of gaining a sense of direction and navigating myself through life.
Since 2012, I have been employed by The Rising Foundation as a Social Worker working with youth in various secondary and intermediate schools across Auckland, particularly Papakura High School.

Feleti Lotulelei
TRF Programme Coordinator

Hi everyone,
I’m Feleti Lotulelei, I’m 23, and I’m the TRF Social Worker based out in Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Otara. I started with The Rising Foundation in 2010 as a Year 13 Leader at Papakura High School and I have been a part of it all ever since. I was born and raised in Papakura, and still live there today. Through the generosity of our Board Members, I was also given the opportunity to study at University attaining a Bachelors of Social Work, and I have now started my Masters of Indigenous Studies, one step closer to a Ph.D. I have been extremely fortunate to have been given all these opportunities, and it humbles me to how generous and supportive our Board Members are of us all.

My area of work in is Otara, and Otara and the wider South Auckland for many years has been plagued with the reputation of being a working class community riddled with delinquency; however what is often overlooked is the amount of riches it holds with the raw talent and potential our young people have. South Auckland is such an untapped pool of wealth that I believe The Rising Foundation has been extremely fortunate to get into. Our students are capable of so many successes in their respective futures, however various pressures somewhat hinder them from achieving as great as they could. Through The Rising Foundation, our students are learning strategies or even methodologies in how to overcome these pressures or issues. Learning a deeper sense of self and self-worth, and getting in touch to who they really are and what they are capable of is the crux of what we do.

In all honesty, The Rising Foundation truly is an amazing thing. It is said that if you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life – and I believe I have found just that. Working with young people who go through life with issues that no one should have to bear, and then seeing them come out through The Rising Foundation with a newfound spark for life, is what inspires me to carry on each day. We understand that The Rising Foundation is a mere stepping stone in one’s life journey, but we truly believe in what we do by setting a foundation of what it takes to be a better person; correlating to being a better brother or sister, a better mother or father, a better citizen, and as a result developing better leaders.

Tiare Matara
TRF Programme Coordinator

I’m Tiare and I joined The Rising Foundation as a senior student and CEO of my respective group. My journey with The Rising started in 2011 where I gained practical life skills and leadership qualities from attending corporate camps and meetings during the year. I utilized these skills from TRF and applied it to my personal and academic life. This led to being Head Girl of Pukekohe High school in 2013.

After high school I ventured off to AUT University to study a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Event Management. My first year of university in the “real world” was a challenging and awesome chapter of my life. I continued to volunteer for TRF as a JB Graduate and now I am employed as a community youth worker.

The Rising Foundation has opened so many pathways and opportunities for me and I am privileged to be apart of creating brighter futures for our youth.

Gideon Rihari
TRF Programme Coordinator

My name is Gideon Rihari, I am a program coordinator for The Rising Foundation based at Rosehill College and I am currently doing my diploma in youth work. I was a 2012 graduate from Papakura High School and have been apart of TRF family since 2010.

I have always seen the Rising not only as a leadership group but also a family, where you’re able to come as you are and learn to better yourself. The Rising has challenged me in many different way but also has supported me through the hard times and I now have the privilege to help guide others on their journey.

Jordan Tanielu
TRF Programme Coordinator

Hi my name is Jordan Tanielu, I’m currently working as a Youth Worker between our five TRF secondary schools. I was born and raised in Papakura and moved to Otara in 2010, so you could say I know South Auckland really well.

My journey with The Rising Foundation began in 2010. My time as a student with TRF was extremely helpful not only academically, but socially and spiritually as well. TRF helped me to do a full 180 turn with my behaviour and attitude towards everything I do, ultimately to find my true identity. TRF has also helped me open my eyes and see that the world is a much bigger place than South Auckland, as they took not only us students but also brought our families along to places like Taupo and the Coromandel which really brought our families closer together. What I also love about The Rising Foundation is that they teach and give you tools that you will need as a young adult stepping out into the ‘real world’ that you wouldn’t normally learn in school i.e. How to write a CV, how to make a plan, how to run events like fundraisers, how to present yourself in an interview etc.

It warms my heart knowing that there are programmes like this that really do care about our youth and families. In conclusion The Rising Foundation has helped me to build my characteristics as an individual and has also equipped me with the appropriate tools and knowledge to collaborate with my passion to encourage and teach our future leaders that they can do and be anything they desire to be with the right attitude.

Aviata Tanielu

TRF Programme Coordinator

Coming soon…

Billie Paterson

TRF Cadet

Coming soon…