Research reveals most Kiwi think legacies are about more than just money

Research reveals most Kiwi think legacies are about more than just money

Media Release

24th May 2021

Research released by Public Trust this morning, indicates 78 per cent of people who care about their legacy believe a legacy is more than just about leaving money to their loved ones.

Eight out of ten of all the survey respondents said their legacy mattered to them. Many of those people were also clear on what their legacy would be; for example, 64 per cent said their culture or heritage was an important part of their legacy.

Other participants said they wanted their legacies to reflect other aspects of their identity. Comments included, "it’s the meaning to my life", and "it's a taonga”. Another participant said: "To make the world a better place while I am here and after I have gone. To make a difference".

Public Trust Chief Executive Glenys Talivai says another surprising result of the survey was a third of respondents (33 per cent) were not clear on what their legacy meant to them, and the same number did not feel they were on track to leave a legacy they could be proud of.

“You create a legacy while you’re still living. I believe that each and every one of us is building a legacy, every day, and that a legacy is the memories we make and the bonds we create. It’s the impact we have on the world around us,” says Public Trust Chief Executive Glenys Talivai.

Glenys Talivai says that making and keeping a will up to date is also a key part of leaving a legacy, partly because a will is about much more than just the distribution of large assets.

“A up to date will ensures that messages of love, treasured mementos, instructions for the care of children and everything we’ve worked to create through our lives, is left to the people ̶  and often charities  ̶  of our choosing.

“We have seen many bitter disputes break out over items of purely sentimental value, such as old guitars and photo albums. These disputes could have been avoided with the right planning.

In our experience, making a will is empowering, and a very positive process. This was reflected in the research; 76 per cent of those people who have made a will said they had a clear idea of the legacy they will leave behind, versus 67 per cent of respondents overall,” says Glenys Talivai.

It is generally recommended that anyone with assets worth more than $15,000, or who has dependents, should have a will. But recent figures show only 48 per cent of adult New Zealanders have a will in place.*

“Making a will in the digital age is easier than ever before. A basic will can be done online for less than $100. Wills can be updated at any time, can include whatever is important to you or your family, and can be almost as individual as the person whose will it is.

“We want New Zealanders to be able to create the legacies they want; by taking all the right steps, I’m sure that Kiwi can create some truly wonderful legacies,” concludes Glenys Talivai.


  • From the Public Trust’s own research (2020).

Notes to editors:

  • 657 New Zealanders were surveyed. The fieldwork was conducted in May 2021 via the Dynata survey panel. The results are weighted to be nationally representative by age, gender, region and ethnicity.
  • Public Trust’s top 5 tips for creating a will – read them here.

For the full results of the survey, or to arrange an interview with Glenys Talivai or with one of the survey respondents, please contact:

Jay Harkness, Senior Communications Consultant
027 457 2891

Contact: Jay Harkness

Phone: 0274572891