NBR RICH LIST 2016: Top ten philanthropists

As part of this year’s Rich List, NBR has selected 10 of our most important philanthropists. We hope this list will inspire others to donate more and bring attention to those who do so. While we have restricted it to 10 we acknowledge there are others out there who also give generously and deserve to be recognised. Our mission is to highlight those who are giving and make this list something our Rich Listers can aim for.

Sir Michael Friedlander
He may be a tough landlord, controlling a vast property empire but it’s his philanthropic endeavors that have earned Sir Michael Friedlander the most respect. 

His recent knighthood recognised the Friedlander Foundation, which has contributed to many local businesses and organisations since the 1960s.

He told NBR he wasn’t expecting the award and his contribution to philanthropy is not made for any personal acknowledgment or praise. “It is in the hope and expectation New Zealanders can make real progress on social issues and lead the way internationally in so doing.”

Sir Michael has been a long-standing donor to great potentials, the Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters (Hippy programme), Youthtown, Foundation for Youth Development and Outward Bound.

He has funded research programmes for dyslexia and regenerative and stem cell medicine for children with severe conditions.

Full profile here

Dame Rosie Horton


Dame Rosie is synonomous with philanthropy and is the founding chairwoman of several charitable organisations, including Friends of Starship and the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

Her passion and focus, over 40 years, has been women and children.

In 2011 she was knighted for her services to philanthropy. 
She is a patron of Starship Foundation, Breast Cancer Foundation, Rautakauri Music Therapy Trust, World Child Cancer, Yellow Belle for NZ Women’s Refuge, Abbeyfield NZ, trustee of the Athlae Lyon Starship Research Trust, ambassado for Macular Degeneration and ambassador for the University of Auckland’s Centre of Brain Research.

Full profile here

John Hynds


The self-made Hynds family is devoting more and more energy to their philanthropic pursuits, having formed the Hynds Education Fund in 2014 to focus on education. John and Leonie and their two sons, Adrian and Aaron are trustees and one of the fund’s first initiatives was providing scholarships for students at Manurewa High School, the high school both John and Leonie attended.

They also sponsor the Arts Regional Trust’s Creative Entrepreneur Award and this year awarded the Hynds cash grant to artistic director and film maker Shona McCullagh.
John was recognised for services to business and philanthropy in 2012 when he was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit.

Full profile here

Sir David Levene


Sir David Levene has a long history of helping aspiring young New Zealanders fulfill their dreams.

His backing helped young golfer Lydia Ko along her path to global prominence and he has also helped thousands of youngsters through the Outward Bound Trust which he has supported since its inception in the 1960s.

Recognised as one of Auckland’s leading philanthropists, Sir David is a patron of Parkinson’s New Zealand and supports the Halberg Trust, Rotary Club and North Shore Hospice. 

He says giving money away “is quite satisfying” and he’s putting as much as he possibly can into the David Levene Foundation to build the base. 

“The foundation is worth so much, and I want to double that.”

Full profile here

Sam and Gareth Morgan


After making a fortune when Trade Me [NZX: TME] sold to Fairfax Media in 2006, Sam Morgan and his family are generously giving their money away.

Sam established the Jasmine Charitable Trust, which focuses on backing “social entrepreneurs” and projects aimed at alleviating poverty in the developing world. 

A typical project, the One Acre Fund, helps subsistence farmers in Africa develop their land and manage crops so they can sell them at a profit. 

“Our goal is to have a portfolio of high impact social organisations and to help other high net worth individuals and foundations to give effectively.”

Jasmine, which has almost $28 million in assets, gifted more than $4 million last year, most of it to overseas projects.

Sam’s father Gareth and his wife Joanne established the Morgan Foundation as a charitable trust for the purpose of reducing wealth disparity. 

Its work extends to public interest research and education as well as to investment in conservation and natural environmental enhancement.

Full profile here

Neal and Annette Plowman


Everybody who has enough disposable income should invest in some philanthropic activity. That’s the mantra of Neal Plowman, and he and his wife Annette have taken it to the next level – gifting $100 million of their fortune to establish the Next Foundation.

The Plowmans had already supported several significant philanthropic projects, including the Rotoroa Island Trust in the Hauraki Gulf and Teach First NZ, which aims to tackle educational inequality.

Their return to the Rich List is symptomatic of their philanthropy, which put them back in the public eye, although not deliberately. 

Next Foundation is exactly what its name suggests, with a vision to create a legacy of environmental and educational excellence for future generations of New Zealanders. The Plowmans are setting a high standard here.

Full profile here

Sir Stephen Tindall


This well-known philanthropist can be credited for about $125 million of donations through the Tindall Foundation, largely to struggling families and social services.

“We want to help build a stronger, sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand so families, communities and our natural environment thrive now and in the future,” the foundation says on its website.

Headed by John McCarthy, the Tindall Foundation supports a range of charitable activity by way of donations, training, capacity building and research, and by partnering with others.
Sir Stephen, his wife Margaret and their family, daughters Kate and Elizabeth and son Rob are actively involved.

Full profile here

Todd family


The Todd Foundation is one of this country’s best-known philanthropic organisations and since 1972 it has given away more than $59 million to a wide variety of recipients.

In finishing up her role as executive director of the foundation in April last year, Kate Frykberg cited three examples of the qualities the late Sir John Todd brought to the organisation.

First is a the continuing annual generosity from the Todd family, which each year votes a significant collective family donation toward the Todd Foundation’s grants. “This is a not an arm’s length foundation giving the income from some long-established capital fund. This is hands-on generosity,” she said. 

Second, 100% of money tagged for grants goes to the community. “This is because the Todd businesses generously cover the operating costs of the foundation in a separate annual donation, as well as providing significant in-kind support”

And third, the independence of Todd Foundation is always respected. 

“There is never any suggestion from either the businesses or the Todd family about who should or shouldn’t be funded.”

Full profile here

Sir James Wallace


Despite starting from a modest background as the owner of an agricultural waste business, Sir James has grown into one of the most important art collectors and supporters in New Zealand through the Wallace Arts Trust.

Its vision is to: “support, promote and expose New Zealand contemporary artists while providing the wider public with an inimitable cultural and historical resource of contemporary New Zealand art.”

Through his trust Sir James supports many other arts organisations in New Zealand and he is a board member of 20 such institutions.  His foundation and trust are said to inject $2 milliion into the arts annually.
Sir James believes many of his fellow Rich Listers haven’t grown up being used to giving money away and at times he has been critical of wealthy who do not do so.

Full profile here

Green family


Years of poverty during his younger years drove the late Hugh Green’s philanthropic mission.

The proud Irishman was penniless when he arrived in New Zealand in 1951, building his wealth through construction, farming and property investment before he died in July 2012, aged 80.

He set up the Hugh Green Foundation in 1998, through which he donated significantly to the less fortunate. 

The Foundation is still a small family run organisation, with several of the Green family still heavily involved in funding decisions.
The board is made up of Green family members, family friends and advisers, with John Green managing the day-to-day running of the foundation. 

Full profile here

For full Rich List 2016 coverage, visit the NBR Rich List 2016 home page here. For full Rich List access, get a 30-day free trial to NBR here.

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