One of the world's biggest philanthropists has continued his love affair with New Zealand by making a multi-million dollar donation to boost Kiwi research into lifelong health consequences of early life events.

Julian Robertson has given $2.7 million to the Liggins Institute which will use the money to train a new generation of researchers.

The grant, which comes from Robertson's Aotearoa Foundation, is "a game changer", says the institute's Professor Jane Harding.

"It is very special, particularly because it will be used to develop early-career researchers, which are very hard to fund. It will make a world of difference."

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The gift continues a series of donations to New Zealand bodies by Robertson, including an art collection valued at $115 million which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse and Salvador Dali.

The art works were pledged in 2009 and were to be brought to the gallery from Robertson's New York apartment for short-term loans on a rotating basis until eventually becoming a permanent part of its collection.

Five years earlier, Robertson and his wife late wife Josie set up the Aotearoa Foundation which has as its aim to make high-impact grants in New Zealand in education, conservation and environmental stewardship, and medical research.

Auckland mum Amanda Kamani gets a check-up for two-year-old son Xavier, who was in a ground-breaking Liggins Institute study for babies born with low blood-sugar. Photo / Supplied
Auckland mum Amanda Kamani gets a check-up for two-year-old son Xavier, who was in a ground-breaking Liggins Institute study for babies born with low blood-sugar. Photo / Supplied

Robertson, 87, has an estimated net worth of US$4.1 billion, and lives in New York.

New Zealand's benefactor Julian Robertson shows the love through $2.7 million gift.

He developed his passion for Aotearoa during a visit 40 years ago when he is said to have been taken by the views enjoyed by grazing stock on clifftop pastures near the Bay of Islands.

Of that trip, Robertson has said: "My wife and I kind of dropped out and went to New Zealand in 1979 and we came back with another child we hadn't expected to have, made in New Zealand."

On his return to the United States he started the Tiger Management Fund, one of the earliest - and most successful - hedge funds.

In 1995, he bought a slice of the landscape he had so admired - a sheep farm near Matauri Bay on which he developed Kauri Cliffs championship golf course and luxury lodge, marking the family's first foray into the luxury hospitality industry.

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His family also owns Matakauri Lodge near Queenstown, and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay, which also features a spectacular golf course.

In 2010, the year his wife died, Robertson signed The Giving Pledge, an initiative by software mogul Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett, in which the wealthy would pledge at least half their assets to charity.

Professor Jane Harding of the Liggins Institute, says $2.7 million donation is
Professor Jane Harding of the Liggins Institute, says $2.7 million donation is "a game changer". Photo / Supplied

Professor Harding described the latest grant as one of the most significant philanthropic donations the Liggins Institute had received.

The money will be used to fund two-year internships, initially for undergraduate medical students, and fellowships for three early-career researchers.

The Liggins Institute is focused on improving lifelong health through research into long-term consequences of early life events.

Research has shown that the earliest experiences - even parents' diet and lifestyle before conception - can have a profound impact on the development of babies.

On Wednesday evening, Harding is giving a free public lecture at the Liggins Institute in Grafton titled "Better brains or life-long health - is there a trade-off for at-risk babies?

https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/liggins-institute-public-lecture-better-brains-or-life-long-health-tickets-64583113832

JULIAN ROBERTSON
•Born 1932, Salisbury, North Carolina.
•Once known as "The Wizard of Wall Street" for his success running his hedge fund firm, Tiger Management.
•Visited New Zealand for the first time in 1979 with plans to write a novel, which is still in progress.
•Had idea for art gift after Kitchener St gallery hosted an exhibition of 14 paintings from his collection in 2006.
•Developed and owns the Kauri Cliffs lodge and golf course in Northland, and the Cape Kidnappers golf course and lodge in Hawkes Bay, and . Matakauri Lodge near Queenstown.