Like artisan weavers of tukutuku panels that work in partnership, Toi Foundation has for more than 30 years been working alongside the Taranaki community to support the region and its people to thrive.

Known previously as TSB Community Trust, Toi Foundation emerged in 2021 through a desire to better reflect the organisation’s new and more impactful strategic framework and values. Its rebrand was part of an aspirational vision to guide the organisation into the future as it looks invest in, facilitate, and co-create opportunities for the success and wellbeing of Taranaki and its people.

“We aim to support our communities to build a thriving, inclusive and equitable Taranaki, to make Taranaki the best place it can be,” says Maria Ramsay, chief executive of Toi Foundation and Toi Foundation Holdings Ltd (formerly TSB Group Ltd). 

Whether it’s the likes of WOMAD, the Festival of Lights, the Taranaki Cathedral Trust, the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust, or hundreds of sports clubs, community groups, environmental organisations, schools, and health and wellbeing groups in the region, the foundation has been there – providing much-needed funding and support.

The philanthropic funder is one of 12 community trusts in New Zealand but, crucially, is the only one to have retained its key asset, its bank. TSB Bank and investment manager Fisher Funds, of which Toi Foundation has a majority share, provide key dividends for the foundation’s community funding.

“Out of the 12 community trusts we give the most back into the region per head of capita. We’re fortunate to have a sizeable income for a smaller population, so we’re able to do more in our community than some of the other organisations,” Maria says.

From handing out $160,000 in grants in its first year in 1988, to providing more than $17 million in funding and investment in 2019, the foundation’s impact on the community has been transformational.  

And, as the foundation’s income has grown, so has its philosophy and focus.

“Our basic layer of funding is the ‘strengthening community’ fund. This supports the fabric of the community – everything from a local sports club and a knitting and sewing group, through to the likes of the Len Lye Centre and Puke Ariki,” Maria says.

“We’re a very forward-looking philanthropic foundation and we are now focusing a lot on providing strategic support."

“We have an ‘innovation’ fund for seed or scale opportunities, a ‘strategic philanthropy’ fund where we provide three-year funding and a wrap-around service for not-for-profit organisations, and an ‘investing for impact’ fund where we invest in opportunities that not only provide a financial return but a social return, which is really key for us.

“It is a much more sustainable way of providing funding.”

Some of the foundation’s recent projects include a shared equity arrangement for people who need help financing a deposit on a house, working with Māori and young people to assist them into jobs in healthcare, and encouraging the reconnection of people with the whenua through the Taranaki Mounga conservation project.