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SONZ Foundation Officially Launched

In August 2022 the Special Olympics New Zealand Foundation was officially launched with a successful event held at the Grand Hall at Parliament Buildings. 

The Foundation was delighted to have over 70 people in attendance including athletes, their families, SONZ officials and supporters, several special guests including the Mayor of Wellington, Andy Foster and the German Deputy Ambassador, Michael Feiener, and several Members of Parliament including host Greg O’Connor MP for Ohariu and the new Minister of Disability Issues, Hon. Poto Williams.

Souella Cumming, Chair of the SONZ Foundation, warmly welcomed everyone and introduced Greg O’Conner who gave a very personal and heartfelt introduction setting the scene as to why we are all here, supporting SONZ and the SONZ Foundation.  Supporting Greg was Poto Williams, Minister of Disability Issues, who spoke about the new Ministry, Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, along with the plans for the implementation of the New Zealand Disability Strategy and Enabling Good Lives initiatives. 

Carolyn Young, CEO SONZ, spoke about what having the SONZ Foundation will mean for SONZ and the work that it does to enrich the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through sport and ensuring that people with intellectual disabilities are valued in Aotearoa. 

The speech of the night had to go to Sarah Dalton, SONZ Special Olympian.  She gave a very entertaining, illustrative and personal speech that not only captivated the audience but also confirmed why everyone was present. 

Following the formal part of the evening Michael Holdsworth, who has been part of SONZ for more than thirty years, entertained those present, while they mixed and mingled, with his beautiful piano playing.

The Special Olympics New Zealand Foundation would like to thank everyone for their support.  The Foundation is here to ensure the long-term sustainability of Special Olympic activities in New Zealand.  To do this the Foundation needs to raise funds.  Funds needed are used for both short-term operational funding of SONZ and longer-term endowment investments for the benefit of Special Olympics New Zealand. 

Once again, we thank you for your interest and support in Special Olympics New Zealand and the SONZ Foundation, we hope to see you at another SONZ event soon.  


Hi, I’m Catherine Stewart and I’ve been employed as the Funding and Operations Manager for SONZ and the Foundation.  I come with a background of community and volunteer work in a range of positions, both paid and unpaid, complemented by a stint in the Public Sector working in the disability space.  My education saw me earn a Master of Education, Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources and Industrial Relations and a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Geography, so I am excited to have all of these interests wrapped up together in my new role.  If I can help you in any way with regards to Foundation questions, please let me know by emailing me on or calling me on 0272231011

Want to Make or Leave a Long Term Gift to SONZ?
Now you Can. 

Have you thought about making a gift in your Will for the benefit of SONZ? Or perhaps a gift to SONZ in memory of a loved one?  

Maybe you have items of value such as paintings or jewellery you wish to give now or leave later?

Until recently, the primary avenue for such giving was via SONZ’s operating arm, but since August last year, gifts like this can be made via the dedicated SONZ Foundation, a separate supporting entity to SONZ.  

The Foundation is overseen by five Trustees, all of whom have been handpicked for their governance, financial and communications skills and their huge hearts for Special Olympics in New Zealand being active forever.   

If you wish to make a living gift (which is tax deductible) you are encouraged to speak directly to a Foundation Trustee or to our Funding Manager, Catherine Stewart (more details on Catherine are below!).  

If instead, you wish to make a bequest so that funds are received when your Will is settled, then our advice is to speak with your lawyer in the first instance, so that the various gifting options can be explained to you.  Please know that no gift is too large or too small, and that it’s important your family members are considered first. For some, their preference is to nominate a set amount for gifting, and for others, the preference might be to nominate a percentage of their estate.  Your lawyer will be able to explain these options, and others, more fully to you.   

What happens next?  Once the Trustees are advised of your gift and the funds received, we consolidate your funds with those already held by us and these are invested in accordance with our published investment policies.  As interest is earned, it is either re-invested or used to distribute to SONZ for special projects or initiatives that align with the Foundation’s distribution policy.  You can read all about it here:   

In terms of the work that has been undertaken by the Trustees to get us to this point, it’s been a busy time since our launch at Parliament Buildings where many athletes, families and dignitaries were present.  Trustees have selected their investment advisors, established the portfolio and more recently, they all attended the National Summer Games and had the great pleasure of giving out medals.  The Trust’s next body of work is to establish a communications plan so that we can talk directly to SONZ families and supporters about our important fundraising role.