John Fowke: Civic Award 2021
Published on 01 December 2021
John Fowke will long be associated with Toyota New Zealand, a company he joined in 1986.
He has been an enthusiast for Palmerston North since 1992, when Toyota set up its restructured National Customer Centre and HQ in Roberts Line.
Heavily involved in Toyota's sponsorship of Team New Zealand since the Auld Mug was won in 1995, the motorsport fan retired from the company in 2014 as general manager of finance.
He retains connections with Toyota as a consultant for legal services and as an ambassador for the Toyota Racing Series.
With a passion for developing leadership, John has increased his community involvement since retirement, perhaps signalling those intentions earlier when he joined the Te Manawa Museums Trust Board in 2005.
Appointed deputy chairperson in 2007, he became chair in 2014 (a role he still holds), contributing to Te Manawa being at the forefront of the international Museum Without Boundaries movement, a growing worldwide approach to promoting accessible, inclusive and participatory displays.
With a background in corporate law, he teamed up with the Manawatū Community Law Centre in 2014 and is now its chair.
John also joined the MASH Trust Board in 2014 on its finance, audit and risk management committee. In 2016, he took on its quality governance committee and in 2018 he was appointed deputy chair.
MASH moved to new premises in Cuba St in December 2019. This enabled the organisation's community services, mental health and addiction services, IT and administration to be housed in one building - a good place from which to face the additional sector challenges posed by Covid-19 and its lockdowns.
In 2015, John was a founding member of the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) board and was appointed external member to the Manawatū District Council audit and risk committee, serving there until 2020.
When the Kiwi Driver Fund was set up in 2015 to help promising young racing drivers achieve their goals in motorsport, John was on board as a founding trustee.
He also became a founding trustee of the Special Olympics NZ Foundation established in 2016, and now chairs the organisation, which provides support and fundraises for those with intellectual disabilities who are involved in sporting activities.
In 2020, John continued to expand his community leadership roles with an appointment to the St Dominic's School for the Deaf Trust.