Why CFNZ was established

The small group of Connect Futures NZ Trust founders felt that it was a “no-brainer” to establish an organisation that would address the obvious equity issue that presents as a “gap of youth opportunity” across the state school sector in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

To any education institution, ngā tāura (former student) communities represent a significant, low-cost source of inspiring, relatable role models and potential contributions of “time, talent and treasure”. 
Alumni engagement programmes are prevalent in private school and tertiary education sectors throughout the world but, in the majority of New Zealand state schools, this significant resource remains more-or-less untapped. 

As a result, students who attend the majority of New Zealand’s state schools are missing out on the enriching benefits enabled by regular exposure to inspiring, relatable role models, and the enriching contributions this community makes to the social, cultural, spiritual and institutional fabric of a kura. 

Global research* reveals that only 1 in 8 graduates from schools in low income regions goes on to further education and, in New Zealand, only 1 in 100 entrants to some of our university courses come from the most deprived homes**. 

*Future First UK research 
**“The gap between the rich and the poor at University in New Zealand”, Kirsty Johnson, New Zealand Herald, 15 Sept 2018

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The story so far

Tāwai Takapiri Connect Futures NZ Trust was established in 2018 to address the “gap of opportunity” equity issue that exists in Aotearoa’s state school sector.  

Since the outset, we have been privileged to be supported by the unsung heroes of The Fletcher Trust, Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust, Waka Pacific Trust and Alterno Foundation all of whom dedicate their time, passion and funds to making a positive difference for Aotearoa, its people and places.

In 2022, we were proud to be chosen as recipients of funding from the Todd Foundation, another of New Zealand's longest standing family trusts committed to support of long-term equitable shifts and systemic societal change in communities throughout Aotearoa. 

In 2019, Tāwai Takapiri commenced a three year pilot programme with ten partner schools located in three regional hubs. Alongside regular one-on-one mentoring and support, Tumuaki and community kaupapa co-ordinators have had opportunities to connect, share and support each other at two Tāwai Takapiri Wānanga events hosted in Napier and Taupō. 

By the end of 2022, supported by committed Boards, enthusiastic Tumuaki and passionate community co-ordinators, six of these kura had successfully established their community engagement kaupapa and delivered enriching community initiatives for the benefit of current students and their kura communities. 

Career opportunities have been discovered; endowment funds created; reunions organised; volunteer coaches recruited; goods and services donated; student well-being initiatives established; teacher legends acknowledged and heart-warming stories published. 

Community engagement initiatives in these kura are generating multiple positive impacts that enhance the capacity and sustainability of their social, cultural, spiritual and institutional well-being and, most importantly, kura pride and self-belief amongst rangitahi is on the rise!  

Heading into 2024, a limited number of Tāwai Takapiri Connect Futures NZ memberships are now available.

If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of a community engagement kaupapa and what it could look like in your kura, please contact Executive Director Vicki Fowler at vicki@connectfutures.org.nz 

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What we stand for

Our Vision

Our vision is of an Aotearoa New Zealand where every young person is exposed to empowering opportunities.

Our Purpose

To inspire ambition and self-belief in rangatahi of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our Mission

To empower a movement of thriving kura throughout Aotearoa, enriched by connections with and contributions of members of their ngā tāura communities.

These networks serve to increase a school’s capacity and capability to provide inspiring, relatable opportunities to all ākonga/students.


Tāwai Takapiri

The rope of connections that bonds our people

A whakataukī is a Maori proverb that expresses symbolic meaning.

Tāwai Takapiri is the whakataukī of Connect Futures NZ Trust.

A Tāwai is a cord or rope that has only two strands. These strands represent the connection between current students, former students (alumni) and other members of the school’s wider community.

In order to grow and strengthen, a rope or cord needs to be weaved, maintained and added to - similarly, a relationship of connection needs to be encouraged, maintained and developed.

Takapiri is a beautiful old descriptive word that translates to “maintaining close connection”.

We wish to thank te reo lecturer and author Hemi Kelly for his guidance creating our beautiful whakataukī.

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The Pikorua

The Pikorua (or twist) is a Maori symbol representing the eternal emerging paths in life.

Double twists represent the relationship between different peoples or cultures and are often gifted as a symbol of friendship.

Our Core Values

If Tāwai Takapiri Connect Futures NZ was a person we would vibrate positive energy, we would always see the silver lining rather than the cloud, we would be kind, empathetic and respectful and it would be important to us that all members of our whānau felt a sense of belonging

As an organisation it is important to us that we walk our talk - our mahi is about people and connections and we feel privileged to support great people leading great schools to establish sustainable, positive legacies for their communities and their ngā tāura communities.

He aha te mea nui o te ao?

He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata


What is the most Important thing in the world?

it is people, it is people,it is people

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Our thanks to the students of the Wider Living Week Mural group at Māngere College who created these beautiful artworks for Ngā Hau Māngere, the birthing centre opened in Māngere in February 2019.