Building futures.
Strengthening communities.
Granting opportunities.

Our Trustees

Front Left to Right:  Coral Phillips (Accountant) , Denise Adamson (Trustee), Kerry Mason (previous Trustee), Megan Potter (Secretary) Harry Mourits (Trustee)John Dawson (Trustee) and Peter Hexter (Chair of Board)        
Absent: Tony McLaren

Peter Hexter


With a farming background and as a partner of CooperAitken, as well as someone very supportive of the community in which he lives, Peter Hexter was the ideal person for Gavin Haddon to "shoulder tap" as the prospective chairman on the Awarua Trust following Gavin's retirement from the role.

He has a real passion for helping his clients achieve their financial goals and aspirations. 

Peter took over after attending a few meetings of the trust and familiarising himself with its unique business. He was encouraged by the fact that good systems and processes were already in place and the trust had been operating very smoothly for more than 15 years.

Peter grew up on a dairy farm in Taranaki and attained a business degree at Massey University. He spent time in a commercial accounting role before heading overseas, returning to New Zealand, and joining CooperAitken (then Bannin, Cooper & Partners) in 1988. He became a partner six years later.

Peter says the town of Morrinsville has been very good to himself, his wife Vanessa, and their daughters Summer and Charlee.

"I am super excited to be part of the trust, working alongside a very dedicated team. Our plan is to grow the wealth of the trust to enable increased grants and scholarships"' Peter says.

John Dawson


John Dawson is well qualified as a director of Awarua Farm LP and a trustee of Awarua Trust.

He graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree and followed this with five years on the West Coast of the South Island, working as a farming advisory officer for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF). He was selected to participate in an exchange programme that saw him employed by the equivalent of New Zealand's MAF in Wales for 12 months and was part of New Zealand's dairy missions to China in 1981 and 1983.

On returning to New Zealand in 1978, he was appointed to take charge of MAF's advisory service in Morrinsville, a position he held for nine years. The town and district were to become home for John and his school teacher wife, Alison who with their three children, became very involved in the community.

In 1987 John accepted a position as Supplier Services Executive, later promoted to General Manager for milk supplier relations for the New Zealand Dairy Group, later to become Fonterra.

He formed John Dawson Consulting Limited in 1999 and continues to operate this very successful farm management consulting practice, albeit working fewer hours than he once did. His company has been involved with farm supervision as well as governance, recruitment, and Maori agriculture.

Harry Mourits


Dairy farming has always been a passion of Harry's, who has progressed from obtaining a Certificate in Agriculture from Waikato Polytech to the stage where he and his wife Maree, now own and operate two dairy units at Te Puninga with a total area of 206ha and milking 700 cows.

Like Brian Gordon (previous Trustee), Harry followed the traditional method of attaining farm ownership as a farm labourer, share-milker, and working off-farm (haymaking and working as an artificial breeding technician), before purchasing a small farm and then adding acreage to it.

He has been involved with Young Farmers Clubs, Federated Farmers, farm discussion groups, and dairy company committees.

Harry is pleased to have been invited to become a trustee of the Awarua Trust and a director of the farming operation. 

"It is a privilege to be involved and great to see Edna's legacy benefiting the community as she wished," Harry says.

Tony McLaren


Tony is reasonably new to the Trust, being appointed Trustee in 2019.

With his wife Jan, Tony owns and operates McLarens Rural Services Ltd, a milking machine, water pump and Stihlshop Sales and Service Centre in Morrinsville. The business ensures Tony has wide ranging dealings with members of both the rural and town communities which is further enhanced by his involvement in the Morrinsville Rugby & Sports Club as a coach, administrator, and life member. Tony is also a Trustee of the Campbell Park Charitable Trust.

Tony sees the Awarua Trust as something of a hidden gem for the area and is excited about his role as a Trustee. Whilst ensuring the aims of the trust deed are complied with, and the benefits the Trust offers are taken up, Tony views promoting the values of the Trust and lifting its profile in the community as crucial and rewarding parts of the role.

Tony and Jan have one son, and have been back living in Morrinsville for over 25 years.

Denise Adamson 


Denise Adamson is the newest trustee, officially taking her place in the team in December 2023 after being selected from a number of applicants when a vacancy was advertised. She became aware of Awarua Trust when her daughter Nicolette was embarking on her Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree at Massey University. She successfully applied to the trust and was granted a scholarship to assist on her path to learning. Both Nicolette and her sister, Patrice, also a university graduate, attended Morrinsville College. 

Denise and her husband John moved to the district in 2004, progressing through share-milking to leasing a farm. On retirement from rural life, Denise was appointed manager of a veterinary clinic in Morrinsville.

She considers Awarua Trust to be a perfect organisation through which she can contribute as a form of community service. She has been involved in various committees over the years, including the Morrinsville Light Horse Club, and as a player, coach, and manager of a Morrinsville Football Club team.

“I am hoping that being part of the Awarua Trust will enable me to assist young people to fulfill their dreams,” she said.