Queen's Birthday honours: Bill Holland

By John Cousins

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A passionate advocate of Tauranga's philanthropic Acorn Foundation, city lawyer Bill Holland, has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the community.

Mr Holland, 59, helped found Acorn in 2003 and played a pivotal role as chairman for eight years to guide the foundation to the point where it was now poised to become a major funder of Tauranga charities.

Acorn uses gifts left by people in their wills; an American concept that Mr Holland helped bring to the Bay.

"It is such a simple and good idea that you wonder why someone did not do it years before us," he said.

So far more than 150 people have made provisions in their wills for Acorn and the foundation's $6 million of investments would return $300,000 this year. Acorn's top three living providers have set aside a total of $35 million in their wills.

"The benefits to Tauranga will become absolutely huge," he said.

Born and bred in Tauranga, Mr Holland's leadership skills have been widely used in the community, including a 12-year stint chairing the Tauranga Boys' College Board of Trustees.

His strong sense of community pride extends to the Tauranga Rotary Club where his work won him the rare honour of a sapphire pin to his Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship award, effectively a double award.

He used the club's sister relationship with Japan's Kasaoka Rotary Club to establish an exchange programme between Tauranga Girls' College and Kasaoka's girls' school.

Mr Holland, a partner in the law firm Holland Beckett, was inaugurated into the Tauranga Boys' College Business Hall of Fame in 2008 and was made the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce's Business Leader of the Year in 2009.

His other achievements include a life membership of the Tauranga Rowing Club, chairing the Tauranga YMCA for five years, serving on the board of economic development organisation Priority One, and chairing the Territorial Employer Support Group. Mr Holland was also active on a number of community-based trusts including his honorary position on the Legacy Trust which owns Legacy Funerals. Profits from the funeral business are distributed to community organisations.

He is a vicar's warden at Holy Trinity Church and says his most significant life-changing experience was through the church's Alpha Course which helped people find a Christian faith. He has now become an Alpha course mentor.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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