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Minister Launches Frozen Funds Charitable Trust

News Release 14 February 2008

Minister Launches Frozen Funds Charitable Trust
Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Users to benefit

The Frozen Funds Charitable Trust was officially launched this morning in Wellington by the Hon Ruth Dyson, Minister for Disability Issues.

‘Frozen Funds’ was the name given to the interest on patients’ welfare benefits paid into psychiatric and psychopaedic hospital trust accounts in the 1970s and 1980s.The interest money was kept by the institutions to fund such things as recreational projects. In 1987, this practice ceased and the interest money was taken from the hospitals for payment to the people who owned it. Over half the interest money was returned to its owners in the early 1990s.

The government then decided that the unclaimed balance of the funds should benefit people who used mental health and intellectual disability services, and a charitable trust was established. For a number of years, Public Trust worked with stakeholders in the mental health and intellectual disability sectors to develop the Trust Deed, which was signed off by the Government in 2006. Trustees were appointed in 2007. Public Trust provides administration and investment services to the Frozen Funds trust board, and acts as trustee of the funds.

Minister Ruth Dyson said this was a day of celebration. “Not only are we celebrating the launch of this charitable trust, but also that mental health and disability service consumers will ultimately benefit from projects the trust will fund. Our Government wishes the Frozen Funds Charitable Trust well for the future.”

The purpose of the Frozen Funds Charitable Trust is to provide grants for projects run by and for people who use mental health or intellectual disability services. The Trust Board has agreed to distribute money from only the interest earned from the fund. Funding is available equally to mental health and intellectual disability services.

Applications are now being sought for its inaugural 2008 grants. Applications this year must be for projects whose purpose is to raise public awareness of the legacy of institutionalisation.

Trust chair Mary O’Hagan says, ”All the large hospitals for people with mental illness and intellectual disability have now closed. However, there are many former patients who continue to be affected from the impact these institutions had on their lives. That’s why the Frozen Funds Charitable trust board in 2008 is funding projects that address the legacy of institutionalisation. We believe the public needs to be better informed about the institutional era so that we can learn for the future.

“The projects that the Trust proposes to fund this year could involve advocacy, education, the creative arts, media and research of any other approach that addresses the legacy of institutionalisation.”

Expressions of interest must be submitted by any eligible organisation before 31 March 2008. Expression of interest forms can be downloaded from or obtained from Cheryl Mennie, Public Trust Special Business, Public Trust, PO Box 5067, Wellington or phone 04 978 4558 or 0800 371 471.



The Frozen Funds Trust Board membership is made up of seven people, four of whom are current or former users of mental health or intellectual disability services. Public Trust provides administration and investment services to the board.

Mary O’Hagan (chair), Wellington Barney Cooper, Dunedin
Robert Martin (deputy chair), Wanganui John Sutherland, Christchurch
Chris Adamson, Auckland Kerry Whitworth, Palmerston North
Tracey Cannon, Auckland


Each element of the logo plays a significant part in the story behind the establishment of the Frozen Funds Charitable Trust. Each of the twelve water drops shown in the logo represents one of the 12 psychiatric and psychopaedic hospitals in New Zealand which are now closed.

The water drops also symbolise the human suffering brought about by institutionalising people and the ‘thawing’ of the frozen funds through the funding activities of the board. The four larger water drops are laid out to represent a map of New Zealand.


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