The Waikato Hispano Latino Cultural Charitable Trust (WHL) is a not-for-profit organization with the purpose of connecting people of Hispanic roots as well as anyone else who is interested in our cultures. We are a group of passionate volunteers that promote and maintain our language and traditions. Our values are respect, integrity, empathy, trust, and cultural awareness. WHL registered as a Charitable Trust in 2015, changing its structure from Incorporated Society. Before we became an officially registered entity in NZ, there was a long journey paved by wonderful people based in Hamilton who cared about the wellbeing of migrants from Spanish speaking countries that needed other people like them to ease the integration process.
In 1979 the Spanish Society was born. This was the beginning of fiestas, comidas (meals), and other activities where people missing their homelands could share experiences and laughter. The group also welcomed many Hamiltonians from all walks of life as members of the Society. In 1990 The Spanish Society, under the leadership of Simón Acarapi, establishes. The Jardín Hispánico-Meadows of the Enchanted Spring (“Prados de la Primavera Encantada”), located in the Hamilton Gardens, was gifted to the city of Hamilton. The Prados de la Primavera Encantada comprises three areas:
1. “El Desembarcadero de los Embajadores” (The Landing of the
Ambassadors) where migrants are welcomed as ambassadors from
their country of origin.
2. “El Patio de las Naciones” (The Patio of Nations), representing all Spanish speaking countries. Some Spanish speaking embassies sponsored a tile for their country.
3. “Rincón del Poeta” (Poets Corner) is a typical scene from the Romantic era, a place full of memories for people of Spanish descent.
During this period the group was chaired by people like Josefina Grey or Allan McDonald. Allan and his wife Barbara took Spanish lessons at the Waikato Technical Institute. The Jardín Hispánico received an addition during Allan’s leadership: a contemporary sculpture, that would attract visitor’s attention from the distance. In May 2005the group´s name changes to Waikato Hispano Latino Cultural Group Inc. (also known by the people as Grupo Hispano Latino). All these years, the community group has fostered contacts, friendships, and understanding of each other in a New Zealand scenario. Nurturing our culture we have become a community of international standing among the ethnic groups hosted in the Waikato region. Some of the important achievements of those years were the creation of some sports teams that helped to attract a younger generation that mingled with the older one already settled..
In 2010 new members joined the Committee and Patricia Novoa initiated her leadership as a Chair of the now Trust and with these new projects arose like Manitas Spanish Playgroup. Manitas Spanish Playgorup started in 2010 by a group of mums who wanted to pass on their language and culture to their children, providing a platform for families to engage and build new friendships. The playgroup is run and coordinated by volunteer mums and it is well funded and supported by the Ministry of Education. It is well resourced and it is a fantastic starting point for children to integrate with other Hispanic families. One of the things that highlight our culture is “its people” We love to laugh, sing, dance, and share many moments together. The Trust organized activities for people to be able to gather and celebrate: Fiesta Cultural, Fiesta Cinco de Mayo, Latin Parties, Quiz Night, Fiesta de los Niños, Fundraising events, etc.