Our board

Creative Waikato operates a Board of Trustees tasked with realising its vision for a thriving and resilient arts sector in the region.

The Board operates with a minimum of seven trustees and a maximum of nine trustees at any given time.

Appointed Trustees cover the following areas: Ma¯ori, regional representation, various arts sectors, gender balance, professional arts and community arts. The Board also ensures it has combined expertise in governance experience, thorough knowledge of the arts sector, strong networks and financial skills.

New trustees are appointed annually in accordance with the trust deed, usually for a three year term. From time to time new trustees can be co-opted, if necessary. We welcome expressions of interest for trustee positions. If you are interested in becoming a trustee of Creative Waikato, please email your CV and covering letter to the Chair, Amanda Hema, email amanda@thestakeholderagency.co.nz



Amanda Hema - Chairperson

Amanda is Director of The Stakeholder Agency, a company which specialises in helping Waikato organisations build fruitful relationships, proactively collaborate and recognise strategic alignment opportunities. With a strong background in public sector management, Amanda is passionate about regional development and believes local empowerment and growth flows from partnerships beyond territorial boundaries, as a result, she also sits on the Community Waikato board supporting social service provision across the region. A background in 'Speech and Drama' has led to an enduring interest in the performing arts and a love of small town theatre which sees Amanda on the stage whenever time permits.


Muna Wharawhara

Muna is the Amorangi Ma¯ori for Hamilton City Council and is very much a family man, with 6 children, and 2 beautiful grandchildren. He is fluent in Te Reo Ma¯ori, and has a passion and love for kapahaka as tutor, composer, performer and spectator. He has performed at regional and national level kapahaka for the past 20 years. With the best years of his performing life behind him he now enjoys supporting the arts through strategic and governance roles.


Nick Johnston

Nick is a strategic advisor and director of Hamilton-based consultancy Dorrington Wright. Prior to establishing his own business, Nick has held strategy, planning and project management roles at Hamilton City Council, Waikato Museum | Te Whare Taonga o Waikato and Arts Waikato. He has been involved in several non-profit organisations, including the Hamilton Live Music Trust, the Independent Broadcasting Community, the Boon Street Art Festival committee and the Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network. Nick is also a musician and has played piano and keyboards in many local bands.

Lauren Hughes

Lauren Hughes

A North Waikato resident, Lauren is currently the National Development Manager for CDANZ - Career Development Association of New Zealand, mother of three, and a keen advocate for arts education, the development of local artists, and access to authentic arts experiences for all. Lauren also remains closely connected to Auckland where she worked as Creative Programmes Manager at THE EDGE (now Auckland Live), managed Auckland Council's Arts Alive Fund and co-founded Red Leap Theatre. She also produced the PANNZ New Zealand Performing Arts Market for three years and stays connected to the national arts scene via contract work for organisations such as Creative New Zealand.

Scott Ratuki

Scott Ratuki

Scott is a Partner at Tompkins Wake Lawyers. He is a commercial lawyer with nearly 20 years’ experience. He is has had a long association with the arts, including being the last chair of Creative Hamilton, a precursor organization to Creative Waikato. He has served for many years on boards of non-profit or charitable organisations and currently sits on the board of Enrich+ and the board of Hamilton Live Music Trust. Scott is also a musician and has played drums in a few local bands.


Brian Squair

Director and Board Chair of Chow:Hill Architects, Brian comes to Creative Waikato bringing not only design and commercial background, but also a genuine enthusiasm for the arts (and a penchant for licorice!) He is motivated to see creativity expressed in the public realm, be that in performing arts, physical installations and exhibits, or demonstrations for all to enjoy. The work Creative Waikato does in training and inspiring artists is fundamental to this. Brian is thrilled to be part of the Board of Trustees, a Board keen to promote the vision for the organisation and to support Sarah and the team.

Rachel Balme

Rachel Balme

Rachel Balme is a chartered accountant and has worked in various accounting positions over the last 25 years. She is currently Director of AccountantsNZ which is a growing public practice accountancy firm based in Hamilton with a branch in Taumarunui. Rachel has worked on various committees including the Local Leadership Team for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), as well as Treasurer and Chair for Hamilton Operatic Society. She is also a current trustee for Clarence Street Theatre.

Sam Cunnane

Sam Cunnane

With a background in visual arts, Sam has worked in arts education of various forms for close to 20 years. He held roles in teaching and leadership in the secondary sector, including national assessment development and managing an online community for teachers. His current role is as the Head of Te Kura Pāpāho, the School of Media Arts, at Wintec, where he leads a team of educators to develop our future creative professionals. Sam’s own creative practice has recently moved into audio storytelling with the development of the Curious People podcast.