From billionaire benefactors to generous family dynasties, Kiwis are famous for their generosity on all scales. To celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this weekend, Spy has chosen some of the reigning Kings and Queens of philanthropy.
Uber-rich families that gift are plentiful around Auckland. Dame Jenny Gibbs, Anne and Peter Hinton, Sir Chris and Lady Dayle Mace, Peter and Joanna Masfen, Fran Wyborn, Trevor and Jan Farmer, Sir Michael and Lady Sarah Fay are just some of the names that are known.
Leading the pack are Jillian and Daniel Friedlander, who together are fulfilling the long-time Friedlander family ethos of philanthropy. It spans decades back to Daniel's father, multi-billionaire Sir Michael, and mother, the late Harriet, who started the Friedlander Foundation in the 1960s.
The aim of TFF is to create equal opportunities and reduce discrimination within Aotearoa.
Jillian says being a family foundation allows direct dialogue to enhance positive change. The sectors reflected are the arts, youth, wellbeing and medical entrepreneurship.
TFF has long-standing relationships with tens of millions of dollars channelled towards organisations including the Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Theatre Company, Auckland Museum, Auckland Arts Festival, NZ Opera, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Arts Foundation, Outward Bound, the Graeme Dingle Foundation, the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award NZ, the Liggins Institute, Auckland Medical Research Foundation and the University of Auckland. Jillian recently started helping the NZ Gynaecological Cancer Foundation.
As well as a strong focus on the arts, Jillian says, one of her strongest passions is seeing TFF leading medical innovation in response to NZ's high incidence of infant brain damage. This is connected to the use of artificial intelligence with the Auckland Bioengineering Institute for stroke disability and cerebral palsy neurological disorders. It aims to detect and improve movement.
The challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic saw Daniel cut rents by up to 80 per cent for Samson Corporation tenants in both major lockdowns.
It was also the pandemic that brought Zuru billionaire Nick Mowbray and partner Jaimee Lupton's philanthropy into public view.
Two years ago, when New Zealand was in the midst of the level 4 lockdown, they collaborated with the Salvation Army Foodbank. For every food pack donated, Zuru matched it. In collaboration with New Zealanders and food manufacturers, they raised a total of $1.4 million. Mowbray also assisted the Government to bring in personal protective equipment (PPE) from China.
Locally, they are known to be generous to Starship children's hospital and the Crohns & Colitis Foundation, which works on issues which also affected Mowbray's own health. Money raised at their annual bash at their Coatesville mansion always goes towards the CCF.
Zuru annually donates more than 500 toys to Starship, and for the past three years Mowbray and Lupton have gone in at Christmas to hand out the toys, making a connection with at least one family to invite to their home, and with whom they stay in regular contact.
Lupton also consults with the Starship board on various marketing initiatives. The Zuru Starship "dollar for dollar" campaign raised close to $3m for more paediatric intensive care unit beds. The Zuru Edge FMCG business Monday Haircare has a philanthropic initiative called Monday Gives Back, where they donate more than 5000 bottles of product annually to various charities.
"Giving back is something that is very close to our hearts," the couple tell Spy.
"We are always looking for new ways we can help and make a meaningful difference to others — personally and within our businesses."
The pair have a "Give Back" spreadsheet which they are constantly updating.
And Spy hears New Zealand's richest family, Graeme and Robyn Hart, currently sitting at $12 billion net worth, do a lot of their philanthropy behind the scenes.
Education and health have been the stand-out target for the public face of their giving. In 2018 they gave $10m to Otago Dental School and they contributed significantly towards a new $30 million education block at King's School in Remuera, where son Harry studied. Daughter Gretchen Hawkesby and her mother have done their fair share for Auckland Grammar, where her sons attend.
It's the mother and daughter double act that has brought an unbeatable sphere of magnetism and influence on the big wallets of Auckland for the annual Starship Diamonds & Stars Tea Party.
"It's a bit of a nightmare. I feel sorry for everyone who knows me," Hawkesby has previously told the Herald, where, before the pandemic, the former Starship vice-chair said she was helping to raise $3.5m to begin building a 10-bed extension for the paediatric intensive care unit.
The Hugh Green Foundation has made a difference in the Queen city and the capital. It was founded by proud Irish migrant Hugh Green, who died in 2012, with assets of $132m. It has made a difference gifting $5m for addiction research at the University of Auckland in 2019, and previously donating $7.1m to create a biomedical research hub in Wellington. Green's wife of 57 years, Moira, is a founder and patron of the foundation and several other family members are involved.
Sir Stephen Tindall and his family are celebrating 28 years since he and Lady Margaret started the Tindall Foundation, following the public listing of The Warehouse. They say their aim was to contribute towards a stronger Aotearoa and say it is humbling to see the mahi that has been done by partners and friends over that time. The Tindall Foundation reportedly gives away about $12m a year to a vast list of organisations.
It is in partnership with the Mana Tamariki project, jointly funded by the Vodafone NZ Foundation. The two foundations are co-funding Oranga Tamariki with the support of the University of Auckland to develop a new way to help families with children aged 8-12 with serious behavioural challenges.
The couple's five children are all involved in TTF and two have started their own spin-off foundation, Next Gen, with a focus on creative arts programmes for young people.
When Brendan and Jo Lindsay sold their company, Sistema Plastics, in 2016 for more than $600m, they told their four children their focus was going to be on philanthropy and went about creating the Lindsay Foundation. The LF has an annual base rate of $10m and a focus on health, mental or physical disabilities, children and animal welfare.
The couple put more than $900,000 to help the Pet Refuge charity build a facility to care for pets while their owners escape family violence.
Wellington boy-done-very-well Sam Morgan advised the Lindsays when asked for advice for their foundation. We hear they are not the first people to hit up Morgan for philanthropic advice. After selling Trade Me to Fairfax for more than $700m in 2006, Morgan started Jasmine Social Investments, a social enterprise at least 10 years ahead of such an entity becoming fashionable.
JSI funds high-performing social ventures and outstanding social entrepreneurs who are attempting to solve the basic needs of the very poor. JSI provides advice and connections and actively advocates for those it funds. JSI has an inspirational global portfolio of philanthropy with a focus on Africa and Asia and, locally, a healthy focus on conservation.
The philanthropy of Wellington multimillionaire property developer couple Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood has helped many causes. Their biggest gift to the capital is a $50m donation for a new Wellington Children's Hospital. It came to fruition in April when they handed over ownership of the new building to Capital & Coast District Health Board.
It's not just the locals giving back to Godzone. New York billionaire Julian Robertson donated $5m to the Christchurch earthquake recovery appeal, art worth millions of dollars to the Auckland Art Gallery and pledged $6.8m to the University of Auckland for its For All Our Futures campaign.
The foundation builder
In 2014, after years of private giving, construction and property magnate Ted Manson started the Ted Manson Foundation, with a starting injection of $7m.
"After receiving more than 140 applications for funding, it became very obvious, with my experience with housing, that this is where I could make a real difference," says Manson.
He spent 18 months working with former Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett building two social housing developments — 73 apartments in Liverpool St in Auckland's CBD, then the foundation's most ambitious project, the Glen Eden twin tower Westlight.
New Zealand's largest privately developed social housing project, Westlight includes 90 social or state homes among its 167 units and opened just over a year ago.
The $119m used to build the apartments was taken from Manson's personal account and not from the foundation. He says that disappointingly, with the change of government and Covid, he couldn't get traction to build more social housing. His new passion and focus is the TMF School Grants programme.
"The programme is helping with education in low-decile schools in both West and South Auckland. It's hard to comprehend how a lot of these families even survive, let alone pay for the basic needs of their children, with both education and sport.
"I'm very passionate about making a difference with this, so we're focusing on 10 low-decile schools a year, where since April 1, 2022, we have donated to six schools to date."
TMF has committed to the delivery of 50 12- to 30-seater vans over the next 10 years to low-decile schools for educational outings and sport. With 13 already donated and a further seven vans ordered, a total of 20 will be delivered by the end of this year.
The TMF has also helped St John with four ambulances worth $250,000 each as well as a health shuttle, which transports people to health-related visits. The foundation provided $250,000 also for first responders, the TVNZ 1 documentary series which came on to our screens in April. By seeing what the frontline workers do, it encourages the public to get on board and donate, with a link to the foundation shown at the end of each show.
Manson says his three sons are now mostly running his property company, Mansons TCLM, so with the TMF having an asset base of more than $14m he spends 70 per cent of his time making sure the foundation is making a real difference.
To date, more than $4.6m has been distributed to charitable causes where he and TMF see the most need. As well as housing and education, a huge focus is funding for mental health, domestic violence, food packages, Make a Wish and upgrading school sports fields and playgrounds.
The Queen towering over fundraising
The Sky Tower scored the best connector in town when SkyCity corporate event manager Lizzie Leuchars came on board nearly 12 years ago.
She's known for helping a collection of charities close to her own heart and going the extra mile to make sure any organisation wanting to raise money within her domain around Federal St raises as much as it can. On top of her corporate responsibility, the SkyCity Auckland Community Trust, which has distributed more than $52.57m to more than 2565 charitable organisations, the extra events Leuchars has launched or helped have raised millions of dollars.
"I am hugely proud to do my part to support SkyCity Entertainment Group to provide these different charities and causes, and the opportunity we have to make a difference," says Leuchars.
Her watch started after the second earthquake rocked Christchurch, by raising money with an event called Rise Up Christchurch in 2011. Most recently, during the orange alert level setting, a fundraiser for Ukraine and Unicef was held at Gusto at the Grand in April, before the restaurant had reopened. In between, dozens of charities have benefited.
"It could be a little-known charity such as the Te Huringa ō te Tai ō Ngā Wāhine programme in South Auckland, to a highly recognisable organisation such as Paralympics Aotearoa NZ," says Leuchars.
"For me it is personal. I become enthusiastic and passionately committed with every cause and event I have the privilege to work with."
As a result, Leuchars says, she has had the pleasure to meet and be involved with many wonderful New Zealanders from all walks of life, who channel their energy, drive, and passion, as they also want to reach the absolute potential for the greater good.
"I am therefore lucky to have developed an amazing network of can-do people — who become lifelong friends and contacts."
With Leuchars being famous around town for her sartorial style, it's no surprise that some of the most glamorous fundraisers have had her touch.
Variety has benefited from two great initiatives: A Variety of Chefs — an annual event championed by one of SkyCity's best restaurateurs, chef Nic Watt — and the Jimmy Choo Cocktail Party, where Leuchars worked closely with shoe designer Kathryn Wilson and Tim Phin, founder of Remix Magazine, on the fashion front.
Rainbow Auckland's Gala Extravaganza fundraiser in 2016, celebrating the 30-year Homosexual Law Reform Bill, was by far the most colourful. The funds are distributed throughout the community in the form of scholarships and annual grants.
The original Queen of charity, Dame Rosie Horton, has been a real inspiration for Leuchars, who she says has been a true mentor since the pair met in 2012.
"It's the subtle things that make a difference when fundraising in a room full of hundreds of people, whom you hope can dig deep into their pockets. If you are holding a live auction, keep it short and sweet — and full of one and only, money-can't-buy experiences."
A jaw-dropping auction item of the past was at the CatWalk Gala, which raised money for the CatWalk Spinal Trust on its 10th anniversary in 2015. Guests' heads were turned with some "liquid gold", aka champion stallion semen.
And it was Horton's advice on how to seat guests at the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Trust Gala Ball in 2012 that ensured they all felt a connection to the guests of honour, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Leuchars and Horton worked closely with Sir Don and Lady McKinnon to bring together a magnificent feast for 580 guests by star chef Peter Gordon to raise money for local charities benefiting from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Trust. Gordon replicated the meal he had originally created for the Queen and Prince Philip at the London home of McKinnon when he was Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
It's not all glamour, and the yearly SkyCity-Tower De Force Challenge, where skilful first responders race up the Sky Tower, is a favourite for Leuchars, because of the individual goals people set themselves over the years, raising money for an array of organisations.