Spark Foundation

Spark Foundation is the charitable organisation for Spark New Zealand, taking the lead in delivering Spark’s community work. The Foundation’s vision is that no New Zealander is left behind in a digital world. Its mission is to accelerate towards digital equity, including access, skills, capabilities and wellbeing in the digital age.

About Spark Foundation


Spark Foundation is the charitable organisation for Spark New Zealand, taking the lead in delivering Spark’s community work. The Foundation’s vision is that no New Zealander is left behind in a digital world. Its mission is to accelerate towards digital equity, including access, skills, capabilities and wellbeing in the digital age. 

Spark Foundation supports the delivery of Skinny Jump, managing the partnerships that deliver the programme in the community. Spark Foundation also allocates funding for programmes through a strategic partnership approach, focussing on partnering with organisations whose work is aligned to its strategy. 


Digital equity  

Spark works alongside the Spark Foundation to address barriers to digital equity. The Government’s Digital Inclusion Blueprint identifies four elements essential to digital equity:  

Skinny Jump

Skinny Jump is a programme to brings subsidised home broadband to thousands of New Zealanders at risk of digital exclusion. 

Skinny Jump is our way of helping solve the digital divide, by ensuring that every Kiwi is able to have digital access in their home. 

Skinny Jump is a highly flexible prepaid scheme with no contracts or credit checks, plus a free modem. Data is just $5 for 30GB.

We're partnered with the Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA) to deliver Skinny Jump as part of their national Stepping UP digital literacy programme.

Go to the Skinny Jump homepage


Spark Foundation have a catalytic and strategic philanthropic approach and invest in multi-year partnerships with organisations striving to achieve meaningful social impact and systems change in New Zealand.

Spark Foundation's current partnerships are with organisations that focus on building the skills and capabilities young people will need for their digital futures as well as tackling issues related to digital wellbeing. These include:

Spark Volunteer

Everyone who works at Spark New Zealand receives a paid volunteer day to go out and do good in the community.

Spark employees are encouraged to use their skills to volunteer with charitable organisations in the most impactful way possible. 

Spark Foundation has parterned with the platforms HelpTank and to help Spark employees find opportunities that match their skills:

Spark Give

Spark Give is a payroll giving programme that enables Spark people to donate to any New Zealand school or registered charity directly from their pay.

Spark Foundation matches on the first $500 of giving each year through this programme.

Since Spark Give launched in 2011, donations from Spark people and Spark Foundation’s matching has seen over $6 million go to 1,032 New Zealand schools and charities.

Meet the Spark Foundation team


Kate Thomas

Kate Thomas
Spark Foundation Lead

Kate joined the Foundation in July 2018 after a 15-year career in the advertising and marketing worlds. She has an immense passion for facilitating ideas that create social or environmental impact. “It is an honour and privilege to lead the Foundation and serve the communities it seeks to create impact in. The role we can play in helping all young New Zealanders to successfully navigate their future in a digital world is immense.”

Robyn Lentell
Communications & Partnerships Advisor

Robyn joined the Foundation in September 2018 and has a background working in youth psychology and social impact research. She is passionate about creating social change and community empowerment. “I feel so lucky to be a part of the Spark Foundation – here we focus on empowering young people to take the lead in New Zealand’s digital future and the fact that I get to play a part in that is awesome.”

Uma Avula
Programme Advisor

Uma joined Spark Foundation in June 2019 after 3 years working in Spark's frontline in the channel delivery team. He is very passionate about building and delivering projects for our communities. "It's a pleasure to be part of the amazing work spark foundation does. I am very passionate about the vision that "no New Zealander is left behind in a digital world".

Heni-Paku Sharp
Digital Equity Navigator

Heni joined Spark Foundation in January 2020. She has a background in legal spanning more than 15 years. She's passionate about connecting people to collaborate, facilitate and mobilise community initiatives. “Trust and Whakapapa are important to me and I did my homework – I knew I was joining an incredible team before I jumped on board. Spark Foundation is committed to connecting communities through innovative pathways to provide all New Zealanders with equitable access to incredible technology, and therefore equal opportunities to participate and succeed in life. I feel very excited to be part of this journey.”

The Spark Foundation Board


Andrew Pirie, Chair

Andrew worked in corporate relations for Spark NZ from 2012–2018. He was responsible for Spark's external communications, internal employee communications, and engagement with key stakeholders including government and community groups. Andrew is one of New Zealand's most experienced communications professionals with an extensive international background. He returned to New Zealand in 2008 after more than a decade overseas as Asia Pacific head for Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s biggest PR consulting firms. In recent years Andrew has acted as an advisor for significant New Zealand companies including Fonterra and Auckland Airport. His industry experience spans a wide range of sectors including financial services, aerospace, technology, property, healthcare, energy and tourism.

Stacey Morrison

A New Zealand media personality for more than 25 years, Stacey is motivated to inspire others, especially in the Māori community, through the platform that her career in radio and broadcasting has provided. She is an advocate for education. She's also been extensively involved in the charitable sector. Supporting learning is where Stacey's passions and the Spark Foundation's objectives converge. Stacey works to champion Te Reo and active learning inside the home; alongside her husband Scotty, has co-authored a book 'Māori at Home: a guide for everyday families'. Stacey draws on her extensive experience in the charitable sector as an Ambassador for several organisations including the children's charity Variety, NZ Breast Cancer Foundation, Water Safety New Zealand and formerly as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.

Lotu Fuli

Lotu has extensive governance experience as an elected member of the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board of Auckland Council since 2013 and has been the Chairperson of the board since 2016. She is proud of the many initiatives she and her board members have championed, including the establishment of the Youth Council, waste management programmes such as Neat Streets, building community connectedness and inclusion through the Diversity Forums and Festival and providing facilities that her community can thrive in such as Te Puke Ō Tara Community Centre, OMAC, the Clover Park Community House the local libraries and swimming pools.

Vanisa Dhiru

Vanisa holds commissioner roles with the NZ National Commission of UNESCO and the Library & Information Advisory Commission, and advisory roles with NGOs and government agencies. During her career Vanisa has held various leadership roles including CEO of Volunteering New Zealand, Executive Director of 20/20 Trust and President of the National Council of Women NZ. Based in Wellington, she is a member of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Global Network, and the Manawatū regional Te Aho Tāmaka Leadership Programme. Vanisa's key achievements include being listed on the "50 Women of Achievement 2016"; supporting a NGO delegation to the United Nations in 2019; and being a finalist for Young New Zealander of the Year in 2010. She has been an Executive Judge for the NZ Awards since 2011.

Leela Gantman

Leela joined Spark as Corporate Relations Director in January 2020, bringing with her close to 20 years’ experience in corporate and agency roles in New Zealand and Australia. Prior to joining Spark Leela was Head of Communications at Fletcher Building, and before this External Relations Director at beverages group Lion in Australia. In this role she led Lion’s sustainability strategy and community investment program and served on the Board of not-for-profit partner Uplifting Australia. As Spark’s Corporate Relations Director Leela is responsible for reputation management, internal communications, government, industry and community engagement as well as the charitable activities of the Spark Foundation. She also oversees the Company’s sustainability strategy. Leela holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Technology Sydney.

Kelly Baxter

Kelly is Senior Legal Counsel at Spark, based in Auckland. She has worked on key strategic matters for Spark that have delivered pioneering innovation in the mobile and sports content markets, including advising on Spark’s bid for New Zealand broadcast rights for Rugby World Cup 2019. Prior to joining Spark in 2017, Kelly worked with global retailer Tesco in the UK, where she also completed post-graduate study at the University of Oxford. Kelly has been active in the pro-bono legal space, including spearheading Tesco’s Community Law Centre partnership.

Zelda Yates

Zelda is a Transition Lead at Spark based in Christchurch. Zelda's love for community work comes from her upbringing; being the middle child of seven children and raised by her father in a welfare dependent home. She attributes her success to members of the community who lifted her up through example, mentorship and seeing her as an equal. She has worked within high-risk youth facilities and more recently local community work. She is a very proud Spark Foundation ambassador and has been able to contribute over the years, through combining her professional skills with her love for the community through projects like Givealittle, The Electric Garden and the Jump subsidised broadband programme. Zelda uses her time away from the office being immersed in her community through her role on a school Board of Trustees, getting involved in local fundraisers and being an active part of our community wherever the need is.

Brett Bailey, People's Champion

As the Spark People's Champion, Brett Bailey joined the Spark Foundation Board in November 2019. Brett has a background in sales and marketing, and more recently as an agile coach and chapter lead at Spark. Brett was involved in Spark’s transition to agile from day one. Brett is currently a member of ‘Coaches at Large’, whose approach is to provide outcomes-based coaching to parts of the organisation that didn’t fully adopt agile ways of working when the company started their agile journey in July 2018. He’s passionate about the role that mindset plays when moving from a traditional hierarchical organisation into a flatter, more empowered structure.

Martin La'a

Martin La’a joined Spark as an intern in 2005 working part time in Spark’s retail stores whilst at university. After making a decision to pivot away from a law career, he pursued work full time at Spark, eventually working his way up to a Regional Manager. Currently an Agile Coach, Martin partners with business units across Spark to help them realise excellence in ways of working and delivering outcomes. Martin is a proud son of South Auckland and was raised by a solo mother who he credits as ‘Superwoman.’ His purpose is founded on the Samoan value of tautua – service to others. He is passionate about equity and meaningful opportunities for our Māori and Pasifika rangatahi, supporting initiatives like Hatch, First Foundation, and working with his old high school Mangere College.

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