By Cindy Clare
‘Community care and hard work’ values were instilled in the Gattung sisters from a very young age. These principles are evident today, with Angela and Theresa Gattung’s significant achievements in both the professional and philanthropic landscape. And as semi-permanent residents of Waihī Beach, they are also contributing positively to our community through a variety of charity projects.
The Gattung sisters are first generation Kiwis, their parents immigrating from England in 1961. Growing up in Rotorua, they were raised with Christian values and taught the merits of working hard to achieve their goals. Their household was very community focused, and from her mid-20s Theresa set up monthly donations to charities that supported women and animals.
Both natural leaders, the sisters headed into challenging careers. Angela studied to become a teacher, while Theresa worked in corporate roles. Theresa earned accolades as the first female CEO of an NZX listed company, Telecom New Zealand in 1999. After departing Telecom, Theresa was instrumental in new business developments including co-founding My Food Bag and more recently, became Chair of healthcare provider, Tend. She holds numerous governance roles on national and international boards and has featured in Fortune magazine’s list of the 50 most powerful women in global business. Angela worked in the education sector for over 25 years, where she was Principal at Inglewood High School and then spent five years consulting in education, in the Arabian Gulf, Middle East and Central Asia.
As their professional careers progressed, Theresa and Angela were always aware of, and supporting causes close to their hearts. In particular, they are both driven by empowering women and girls, to help lift those who suffer in the poverty or abuse cycles, to lead independent and successful lives. Another area which they are extremely passionate about, is the welfare of animals.
“My sisters and I were told that women can be anything they want to be when provided with equal opportunities. To this day, I firmly believe that and for most of my adult life I have supported groups dedicated to empowering women,” says Theresa.
While supporting various charities, nationally and internationally, the sisters determined it would be more effective to establish their own foundation so they could channel their combined skills, knowledge and energy into programmes that they believed would deliver the best outcomes. And so, the Gattung Foundation was established in 2021. The Foundation contributes to over 50 initiatives that relieve poverty, reduce inequality, educate and advance women, Māori and Pasifika and support the care and protection of animals.
As part of the Gattung Foundation, the Fashion Sister initiative was founded to elevate women through access to affordable new and pre-loved designer clothing and to encourage sustainable fashion. Fashion Sister is such a unique concept as not only does it generate funds to go back into the Foundation, but it allows the Foundation to bring fashion to sectors of the community who need extra care.
Fashion Sister is coming to Waihī Beach this summer (see information in breakout box). The Gattung sisters have a strong connection to Waihī Beach and are also very supportive of local initiatives in our community. The Gattung family have holidayed at Waihī Beach for over 30 years, with parents John and Marion, who moved here permanently around 10 years ago. There are now four family homes
at the beach. In 2021, they contributed significantly to the accessible beach
mat project, which enables persons in wheelchairs and those with mobility issues to access our beach safely. This year, they donated an ambulance to the Waihī Hato Hone | St John ambulance service.
“‘The donation of this ambulance is
our way of giving back to the Waihī community, following the support our whānau received during our Dad’s illness,” says Angela.
The Gattung Foundation has also committed funding towards a new community garden that is in the planning phase in Waihī Beach.
Within just a few years, the Gattung Foundation has impacted many lives so positively and we are grateful to have their support here in Waihī Beach.
For more information or to donate to the Gattung Foundation, head to gattungfoundation.nz