A philanthropist is a person who helps others. Usually a philanthropist gives money although people who volunteer their time to help others are also philanthropists. New Zealand is lucky to have many volunteers, many people who give donations of money to charities and some people who give very large donations.

Last weekend we heard that an Auckland couple, Neal and Annette Plowman, gave Rotoroa Island, which is in the Auckland harbour, to the people of New Zealand as a Conservation Park. It will open in February next year. The Salvation Army have used the island for more than 80 years for a drug and alcohol treatment centre. The Plowmans have bought a 99 year lease from the Salvation Army so that the island can be open to the public. It is 82 ha, has historic buildings and four beautiful beaches.

Another philanthropist was Arthur Harrison of Blenheim who left $10m to the Canterbury Museum in his will. He died towards the end of last year.

In 2006, Pierre and Jackie Chatelanat gave their 843ha farm, Atiu Creek Farm, to the people of New Zealand. It is a beautiful farm on the Kaipara harbour in the Far North, worth $10m. They wanted the farm to be a park and to give people access to the harbour. The farm has forest, wetlands and historical buildings.

Last year Julian Robertson promised 15 expensive paintings, worth more than $100m, to the Auckland Art Gallery when he dies. Listen to May 7th 2009 for more about this.

Perhaps our most famous philanthropist in recent times was Sir Roy McKenzie who donated between $50m and $100m over his lifetime. He died in September 2007. He liked to quote Winston Churchill who said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

Questions to think about
Do you agree with the quotation from Winston Churchill? How does giving help to make a life?
If you were a millionaire or a billionaire, would you give money to help your community? What would make your community a better place?