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Introducing our newest Governor

Matt HunterCentennial Parklands Foundation is please to announce the addition of it's newest Governor, Matthew Hunter, to the Board. A former investment banker turned private equity investor, Matt kindly agreed to answer a few questions about himself, and his love for Centennial Parklands. 

Welcome Matt

First up, we’d like to introduce you to the Centennial Parklands community. So can you tell us, who is Matthew Hunter?

I’m a Sydneysider; I grew up in southwestern Sydney, in Panania. I have four children: a 14-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, a 10-year-old boy and a 4-month-old boy.

As a young boy I had lots of outdoor experience. I was a cub, I was a scout and I really loved that part of life, going hiking every second weekend. My father was involved in that and we spent a lot of time together doing those sorts of things.

I have a commerce degree from the University of NSW, with Honours in Finance, and from there took a job in investment banking. I spent a few years living and working in London and wider Europe, but have been back in Sydney for fourteen years (following the birth of my first child).

Sounds like there was a lot of nature play in your childhood – can you tell us more?

My father bought a property down south, near Sussex Inlet, back when it was undeveloped. It was right on the fringe of the bush. We built the house together and we’d disappear into the bush on motorbikes or hiking for weekends, so I've always really enjoyed the outdoors. I love it!

Is that something you’d like for your children, too?

I've re-embraced that part of life, particularly as my children have grown up a little bit. I moved from investment banking, which was always pretty intense, to private equity which I’d say gives you a bit more flexibility in terms of your schedule.  I bought a rural property, down at the southern end of the Southern Highlands. The inspiration behind it was that having been an outdoor kid myself, I didn't feel my kids were doing enough of it. So the idea really was to put them in an environment where they've got nothing to do but enjoy the outdoors, and just expose them to a slightly different lifestyle. Plus, I've always enjoyed motorbikes and shooting and things like that, so it’s a good opportunity for me to teach my children how to ride motorbikes, how to shoot, and experience a bit of country living.

So no plans to get high speed internet down there any time soon?

No! I really don’t like it at all! There’s no wi-fi at the property and no mobile phone reception. I’m happy with no phone contact. To check your messages you need to go for a little bit of a drive. It’s good.

And the kids are OK with that?

Ha! On balance they prefer to stay in the comfort of their Sydney home! But when they don’t have computer games and there’s no internet down there, it encourages them to get outside and use their imagination and they end up having a ball.

What’s your history with Centennial Parklands?

I moved to the area about two years ago, and to be honest I hadn't really used Centennial Parklands much until then.

So you could say you’re seeing the park through fresh eyes?

Yeah! I come running down here several times a week. I love it. With the birth of my fourth baby for example, my partner and I come down here with our newborn and have picnics in the park. It’s very old-school and it surprises me that more people don’t do it. We take our blanket and picnic set, buy a bit of food and sit with our little baby under a tree and enjoy each other’s company. It’s really nice.

Sounds like love….

I've really embraced it. I think Centennial Park is one of the greatest assets in the country. To get a call about being involved in it in it some shape or form (from Foundation Chair, Rebekah Giles) was quite a pleasure.

What is your take on the Foundation Board, and your role in it?

I’m in the process of spending time individually with my fellow Governors. I think the Board is a good blend of skills and personalities which, for me, is refreshing. My world is dominated by finance people so being involved in an organisation that has some more breadth in terms of the types of characters involved in it, is a really nice experience.

Can you tell us what you consider to be your top priorities as a Governor?

Anything that creates more of an environment that invites kids in and has them playing without devices – physical play – is a really good thing. That’s why I think The Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden is a really good idea. In a way you've got to try and catch kids early and instill that in them, because if you’re trying to convince a teenager that it’s great to play outdoors, you've lost the battle.