Nearly 120 years later, TG Macarthy continues to help those in need
Since its inception in 1912, one of New Zealand’s most significant philanthropic trusts has gifted more than $82 million to support education, provide care for the elderly and improve the quality of life for the disadvantaged in the lower North Island.
The TG Macarthy Trust takes its name from its wealthy benefactor, Thomas George Macarthy, who established the trust as a way to help build strong, inclusive and supportive communities.
The 2021 grant round has just been decided by the Trust Board, with more than $2.5m being awarded to nearly 740 entities, including significant grants to the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Wellington City Mission and Wellington Zoo and smaller amounts awarded to support community organisations such as Wellington Women’s Refuge.
The Trust Board usually includes the Governor-General, the Prime Minister (or representative), the Catholic Archbishop of Wellington and the Capital City’s Mayor and this was the first meeting for our new Governor-General, Dame Cindy Kiro.
Public Trust acts as trustee, reporting on the Trust’s financial position and being part of the sign-off process for awarding the grants among other duties.
Who was TG Macarthy - and what is his legacy?
Thomas George Macarthy was a wealthy brewer, who died in Wellington in 1912. He stipulated in his will that his wealth should be used to help build strong, inclusive and supportive communities by funding not-for-profit organisations that either:
- Improved the quality of life for the disadvantaged and marginalised;
- Helped children and young people develop and realise their potential;
- Looked after and provided dignity for older people; or
- Provided essential medical and emergency services.
The TG Macarthy Trust was set up in 1912 to invest Macarthy’s money, and each year to distribute a share of its earnings to organisations whose work helps achieves the goals of the Trust.
Nearly 120 years on, the Trust has distributed more than $82 million via regular, ongoing grants, and a contestable fund. In 2020 alone, the Trust distributed $2.2 million across the lower North Island (south of Turangi).
Past recipients have included schools, kōhanga reo, toy libraries, Dress for Success, the IHC, the Life Flight Trust, Coastguard, the Sustainability Trust, Youthline, and various Scout groups.
Hutt Valley’s Te Omanga Hospice was granted $300,000 in 2017, and another $13,000 in 2020, only the most recent of the grants given over the past decades, starting with a grant that allowed the Hospice to purchase its first building in 1990. The $300,000 was then used in 2017 towards constructing a purpose-built facility, while last year’s grant was used for security and equipment upgrades at the Hospice.
The Hospice provides care for approximately one out of the three people who die in the Hutt Valley each year. Its CEO, Biddy Harford says: “It is not an overstatement to say Te Omanga Hospice wouldn’t exist without the support of the TG Macarthy Trust.”
Wellington’s Mary Potter Hospice has also received extensive support from the Trust, including $275,000 in 2019, and another $20,000 in 2020. The money enabled its Te Whare Rānui centre to be built, which serves as a base from which its nurses, doctors, social workers and therapists work to provide their palliative care.
The Hospice commented: ‘The TG Macarthy Trust has helped Mary Potter Hospice to build a community hospice hub for people in Porirua and North Wellington. Called Te Whare Rānui, it will be a base from which doctors, nurses, social workers and therapists will work. They will provide quality palliative care for people living with a terminal illness in these areas. We are exceptionally grateful to TG Macarthy Trust for helping provide this amazing community resource.’
The Wellington Hospitals Foundation is another organisation that has received extensive support from Thomas Macarthy, both from the man himself, and from the Trust.
In 1909, it was decided that Wellington Hospital’s dilapidated children’s ward needed to be replaced. A major fundraising campaign began the next year. Thanks largely to the support of Thomas Macarthy, as well as Lord Islington, Hugh Ward and the Mayoress of Wellington, Mrs T M Wilford, more than enough money was raised.
The ‘King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for Children,’ New Zealand’s first dedicated Children’s Hospital, was opened in 1912. In recognition of the project’s chief fundraisers, the hospital’s four wards were named Macarthy, Islington, Wilford, and Ward.
In 2020, the TG Macarthy Trust put $30,000 towards the new children’s hospital building, which will open in 2022.
Some examples of charitable grants from the trust:
Christians Against Poverty were granted $10,000 in the 2020 grants round. The organisation commented: ‘We are so grateful for the support of the TG Macarthy Trust – their partnership in 2020 enabled Wellington families living in poverty to access free, long-term and holistic help with their unmanageable debts. As Luna, a Wellington client says, “I had a whole head full of worry. Now I can just be present and enjoy life. Thank you, I’m honestly so grateful.”’
St John New Zealand were granted $150,000 in the 2020 grants round. The organisation commented: ‘St John is incredibly grateful for the grant from the TG Macarthy Trust. This grant was used to purchase a new state of the art ambulance for use in Otaki and the surrounding communities. St John relies on donations and grants from trusts like the TG Macarthy Trust to purchase new ambulances and lifesaving equipment and we cannot thank the Trust enough for their ongoing support.’