Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A history of giving and a challenge for the future...

Sir John and Lady McKenzie

Roy and Shirley McKenzie
2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the JR McKenzie Trust.  It also marks 75 years of dedicated support for the Trust’s work from Rotarians around New Zealand. Over this time the Trust has given over $83 million to support New Zealanders in need.

Sir John McKenzie (KBE) established the Trust in 1940 by donating a third of the profits from his successful nationwide chain of department stores, McKenzies.  His strong personal belief in providing benefits and assistance to people in need was based on his own poor origins, and his need ‘to give something back’ remained constant throughout his life and the lives of McKenzie generations to come.

Rotarian Patrick Cummings, Chair of the JR McKenzie Trust, says, 'Sir John joined the Rotary Club of Wellington in 1923 and this had a profound influence on his life.  From the outset, he entrusted Rotary clubs to act as agents for allocating Trust funds to support local communities. He realised the value of Rotary as a network of civic-minded people throughout New Zealand. Rotarians were willing to help and continue to do so today.'

Sir John’s son Sir Roy (ONZ, KBE), also a Rotarian, greatly increased the Trust’s size and profile, set up several other charities, and was a major figure in New Zealand philanthropy until his death in 2007.

The Trust has been an early supporter of many of what are now New Zealand’s leading community organisations – groups such as Women’s Refuge, People First, CCS Disability Action, the Stroke Foundation, Relationship Services, Rape Crisis and Age Concern.  The Trust has also supported many local and ground-breaking organisations working within marginalised communities. The Trust’s key areas of focus today are disadvantaged children and their families, and Māori development.

Currently the family is represented on the JR McKenzie Trust Board by cousin David Vance, and Chris McKenzie, a great-grandson of the founder.

Each of the six Rotary Districts in New Zealand provides a Board member for the Trust Board, and leads a team of Rotarians and other volunteers in their District who also contribute to the Trust’s work.

'Child poverty is a key focus for the Trust.  Let’s ask what both we and others can do to reduce child poverty in New Zealand.  Many groups close to the ground are doing great work in assisting the families they reach.  Wearing my ‘Rotary’ hat, my challenge to you is what can Rotary do to reduce child poverty and its effects?' says Mr Cummings.

For more information about the McKenzie family and Trust you can visit the McKenzie Room,  JR McKenzie Trust, Level 4, 116 Lambton Quay, Wellington.  Call (04) 472 8876 or visit the Trust’s website -  www.jrmckenzie.org.nz.