Community and Enterprise Leadership Foundation (CELF)

The Community and Enterprise Leadership programme was founded by the Community and Enterprise Leadership Foundation (CELF) – a charitable trust, in partnership with the University of Waikato Management School.

The programme aims to build future Waikato leaders who can re-imagine wealth creation from social, environmental, cultural and economic perspectives. The 17-day programme runs over 10 months.

Throughout the programme, participants are mentored by senior business leaders on how to develop their own leadership competencies by working on projects within their own company, organisation or community.

Associate Professor Peter Sun, director of the Centre for Enterprise and Leadership, says leadership will play a significant role for Waikato region’s future growth plan.

“With the future development of Tainui Group Holdings' inland port and logistics hub, and the existing agricultural technology industry base that has potential for growth, the Waikato region will need future leaders who can lead collaboratively in a diverse multi-sector environment.”

Associate Professor Peter Sun

Peter is currently Director of the Centre for Enterprise and Leadership, as well as a trustee for the Community & Enterprise Leadership Foundation. His expertise is in leadership, knowledge management, and organisational learning, and he actively researches and publishes in these areas. His leadership research lies in the area of transformational and servant leadership, at both senior and middle management, and the influence of leadership on organisational learning and knowledge management.


Long-standing McKenzie Centre Director Trisha Benge continues to make the world less scary and lonely for hundreds of families who have children with special needs.

Longstanding McKenzie Centre director Trisha Benge was among 21 leaders from a wide range of sectors who participated in the programme in 2015, including public, business, not-for-profits and charities.

Ms Benge, a qualified occupational therapist, was nominated and sponsored to do the CELF programme by John Cook, founder of Stainless Design.

The McKenzie Centre is a not-for-profit early intervention centre in Hamilton for children with special needs. The centre brings together families, specialist teachers, physio, occupational and speech language therapists, psychologist and social worker to help pre-schoolers reach their potential.

“The learning environment provided an amazing opportunity for all of us to tap into each other’s experiences and discover our similarities, differences, strengths and challenges as leaders. My peers were a fabulous resource; no wonder the Waikato is such a flourishing place to be in,” says Ms Benge.

“There were opportunities to visit other organisations that I typically wouldn’t work with on a day-to-day basis which helped me significantly to see in practice the leadership challenges and strengths that leaders face in large organisations.”

During the programme, she led a project around sustainable funding streams for McKenzie Centre.

Managing Partner at the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) Mike Frew was a mentor in the programme.

“It was very rewarding to see my mentees move to a more advanced level of their leadership ability. There is a ‘heart’ for Waikato, its community and its leaders. It lies at the very foundation of the Community and Enterprise Leadership programme,” saysMr Frew. “

“The programme is not driven by ego or profit, and as employers, I believe we have a responsibility to give back to the community that supports our businesses.”