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board of trustees

Over the years Board Chair, John Bongard has gathered an excellent group of compassionate and influential Trustees, through their connections and integrity our programme has weathered a number of storms and has grown to be the force for community change we see today.


John Bongard ONZM CRSNZ

Former CEO of the very successful Fisher & Paykel Ltd, John has dedicated his post-corporate life to the sustainability of The Rising Foundation. With the support of his wife Diane, they have given back to their communities, in particular- Papakura High School, where they both attended.

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

Distinguished Alumni Award – University of Auckland 2019

Companion of The Royal Society of New Zealand 2019
Williams Warn Ltd Director
NARTA Australia Director
PSCTH Thailand Chairman
Northern Stars Netball Director

Totara Foundation Trustee

H J Asmuss Director

Waka Pacific Trust Chairman

Richard Jeffery ONZM

Richard was the founding CEO of the Second Nature Chairtable Trust established in 2000. He is now a professional company director based in Central Hawkes Bay with his wife Michelle. He 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.


John Wardrop

I'm John Wardrop and I am a passionate beliver in The Rising Foundation. I have been married to Annabell for 38 years and have two daughters, Amy and Sara. Apart from the few years overseas on a working holiday with Annabell, I have called Papakura/Takanini home for all but the last four months os 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 Management and Executive positions in Procurement, Logistics, Operations and HR. I am a Board Member of Worldskills NZ, an organisation that promotes Trade and Technical Excellence for young adults.

I have Maori heritage.  Ko Te Ngati Whakaue te iwi Ko Te Arawa te waka. 

Its great to be part of The Rising community. I get to witness the positive pathways and life coaching provided, in a caring and sharing environment benefiting its young people. It goes without saying we are extremely fortunate to have fantastic staff & John and Diane our superstar Founders. 


Kay Spencer

Kay is now the Chairman of buying group, NARTA- The National Association of Retail Traders of Australia. An accomplished leader, Kay joined NARTA in 1998 as Managing Director 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 5.8 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, she was born and grew up in Kakatahi, New Zealand.  Kay travels to NZ frequently, and regularly spends time with family in the Wanganui area


Her  Iwi is

Ngati Hauraroa  and Te Atihaunui a Paparangi

Her Pepeha

Ko Tuhua te Maunga

Ko Ongarue te Awa

Ko Ngati Hauaroa, Te Atihaunui a Paparangi  nga  (te) Iwi

Ko Ngati Te Awhitu te Hapu

Ko Katarina / Toia te Whare Tupuna

Ko Whanau Maria te Marae

Kay has experience within the not for profit sector, having Chairman 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.


Diane Bongard

I am Treasurer of The Rising Foundation.

I was born in Papakura, went to Papakura Normal School, Papakura Intermediate School and Papakura High School.  I left at the end of Year 12 with Accredited University Entrance.  However, I immediately started work with the Auckland District Court as a typist in the typing pool.  After a couple of years I started working as a secretary in a Family Law Practice and then I became secretary to a partner in an Accountancy Practice. When I was 23 I set off on my “Kiwi O.E.” where I backpacked around Europe for 6 months, returning to London to work as a secretary during the day and a waitress a couple of nights a week.  I returned home 6 months later where I commenced work at Formica NZ for some 7 years during which time I married John and we bought our first house in Papakura.  I joined great friends in opening up Belles, a woman’s dress shop in Papakura which we owned for 2 years during which time Sam was born and we moved to Conifer Grove, Takanini. I moved on from this business to working from home as a Public Typist for many years, acquiring a Jack Russell puppy on the way and having a daughter, Kate. My brother-in-law and I bought a sheet manufacturing business in Takanini, Teale Metal Products.  We ran the business together for 12 years before selling this when I retired from working life.

My passion, like John’s, has been South Auckland and giving back to the community I was brought up in and was given my ‘start’ to a life of productive work, values, respect for our diverse community and, since setting up the Foundation, it became important to me to give as many of our students as possible, the opportunities to succeed in their lives.  I assist Donna in organising our major fundraiser, our Race Day.

I am eternally grateful to all our friends, family, work associates and those that have become supporters of our wonderful charity over the ensuing years for all that they contribute to the continuing success of our special Foundation.


Don Mann

Don Mann was born and raised in West Auckland, one of five sons to Don Mann snr and Elaine Mann (nee Hema).

Don’s whakapapa is Ngāti Ruapani ki Waikaremoana and Ngāti Kahungungu ki Wairoa through his mother Elaine. Don is Tongan through his father Don Mann snr who emigrated to NZ from Neiafu, Vava’u in 1947.

Don is married to Louise, an experienced executive with the NZ Police.  Don and Louise live in South Auckland with their daughters Sarah and Olivia.

Don is the Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Media Network, a public media broadcaster whose mission is to empower, encourage and nurture Pacific cultural identity and economic prosperity in Aotearoa.

Don’s leadership roles across the public and private sector include; CEO of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation, Head of Commercial Partnerships at Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), General Manager of the NZ Warriors NRL franchise.

Don joined the NZ Police at the age of 20, serving 13 years that included eight years as a Detective with the Auckland Criminal Investigation Branch.

Don is a graduate of Massey University, a Certified Company Director and a member of the Institute of Directors. 


Don also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Sky City Auckland Community Trust, The Rising Foundation and is an executive committee member of the NZ Tonga Business Council.


Sam Bongard

I grew up in Takanini and I'm a passionate South Aucklander. I went to Saint Kentigern College and went onto 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.

I have held different roles that vary from a Salesperson Role, National Trainer Role, Department Manager Role, Store Manager Role and National Whiteware Category Manager role in the Appliance Retail industry. I am now in a Category Manager role for Foodstuffs North Island in the FMCG industry.
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. It is truly a privilege to be a part of an organisation which has such a meaningful impact in the community. 


Heeni Marie Mahinaroa Horomona (Jenny Solomon)

Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa

Jenny is passionate about helping people develop to their potential. She is proud of her Māori heritage and brings strong values of whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga and mana o te tāngata.

Jenny’s career has focused on corporate learning and development and she was also co-director and CEO of a successful Māori training establishment – Solomon Group. Through these and subsequent roles Jenny helps develop organisations whose focus has been on community transformation, specifically supporting Māori, Pasifika, and rangatahi.  Jenny is currently working in consulting roles and holds various Board governance positions.

Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA - Hons)

Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS - Hons)

Diploma in Training and Assessment Systems

National Certificate - Adult Literacy Educator

Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training

Chairman's Message

Dear Supporter,

It’s never been harder to be a kid in parts of New Zealand. I believe it’s time for a ‘Rising’ of self-esteem in all kiwi communities. A group of former South Auckland kids and those with ties to the community have set up The Rising Foundation to assist Youth to develop to their full potential. It’s about unlocking the potential of all kids in New Zealand, some of whom are on the verge of being lost to their families, schools and community. 

The Foundation does this through developing pathways, involving parents, schools and other agencies using outdoor education programmes, one to one mentoring and Storytelling Intervention.

I grew up in Papakura and Manurewa, one of three kids raised by a solo mother in a state house. My schools were a melting pot of races and while there was never much money around there was never a shortage of talent. From modest family backgrounds many of us went on to do well and participate in all walks of life. It’s that potential we need to continue to unlock  and create a ‘Rising’ for.

All charitable foundations begin with a dream and then they rely on the donations and support of people like you. 92% of funds raised go back to the programme’s direct costs.

Not one child is spared personal growth, especially in the areas of self-esteem, confidence and having a fulfilling life. Being part of The Rising Foundation gives them self-trust and a sense of belonging. You only have to visit these students to see the way they are being taught to think outside of the box. The reason that the programme is so successful is because, firstly, young people are recommended to the programme, and secondly, they must be supported by their families to be eligible to be a part of the programme. We reinforce the notion that with positive changes in attitude and hard work, huge potential can be unlocked and nurtured, even though some of our students are facing very challenging personal circumstances.

Our break-through programme supports adolescents to ‘Rise Up’ and to build positive lives. While the programme begins in schools, post schooling work continues to provide employment opportunities for our graduates with motivated companies and business leaders within the community.


Long term our society as a whole will benefit when more focused, confident young people ‘Rise Up’ from their challenging communities to lead and inspire. The Foundation develops pathways involving parents, schools and other agencies using outdoor education programmes, one-on-one mentoring and Storytelling Intervention. The Foundation’s role is simply about raising funds. We employ a General Manager, an Administration Manager and five TRF Programme Coordinators. We pay for outdoor education experiences and professional services as required. The more kids that do well and participate in all walks of life, the more kids we can continue to unlock and create the potential that is ‘Rising’ from within them all. The more we raise, the more kids we can help.


Throughout the programme, Year 9, 10, 11 students are closely guided and mentored by skilled social workers and Year 12 and 13 mentors. The Foundation develops relationships with young people, their families, extended families, schools and referral agencies, and by gaining an understanding of their challenges and dreams. We use outdoor adventure and leadership development programmes to promote insight and understanding of our mission. Students experience real consequences resulting from their behaviours and decisions. The differences between their current behaviours and their goals are highlighted, encouraging them to achieve the goals they chose.




John Bongard ONZM CRSNZ

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