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ASB Community Trust launches history book

ASB Community Trust launches history book

ASB Community Trust is launching a book tracing the history and impact of philanthropy on the Auckland and Northland region.

The Trust celebrates it’s 20th anniversary this year and the commemorative book, Te Kaitiaki o te Putea: The History of the ASB Community Trust 1998-2008, charts for the first time Auckland’s philanthropic beginnings and tells the story of how philanthropy has made a difference in our community.

Author Jade Reidy says Auckland has a reputation for focusing on acquiring money, as a city of quick gains and ruinous losses.

“Less well understood is the story of how Auckland gave its money away – to create some of the city’s major institutions.

“The history of the ASB Community Trust is inextricably tied to our colonial history. It’s the story of land, religion and beer, of broken kinship ties and barren marriages which imposed misfortune upon many personal fortunes,” she says.

“The wealth accrued from entrepreneurial passions for land and beer, tempered by frugal Protestant living, did not pass down certain family lines. It was instead bequeathed to city ownership – Greenlane Hospital, One Tree Hill, Myers Park, Auckland Art Gallery are just a few examples.”

A group of men who were making their personal fortunes in the 1840s decided that anybody could get ahead in the new land, with a degree of thrift and caution. They set up a trustee savings bank for ‘ordinary’ people. It became the ASB Bank, whose profits were always intended to develop the local community.

“By the 1980s, it was no longer clear who owned the trustee savings bank,” says Ms Reidy. “Social and political forces were creating pressure for change. Community trusts were formed to hold the assets of the bank and its first trustees were instantly faced with the prospect of selling it to an overseas bank.”

But out of this decision has come the ASB Community Trust, which now supports the region’s not-for-profit organisations.

Te Kaitiaki o te Putea: The History of the ASB Community Trust 1998-2008 tells the full story, including the beginning of a discussion about how philanthropy must change if it’s to go on being effective.


“Internationally, philanthropy is moving towards evidence-based grant making and models of sustainability,” says ASB Community trust CEO Jennifer Gill. “A number of visionary and entrepreneurial family foundations are appearing and they’re addressing issues of social change from the community up, rather than from the top down.”


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