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Spca Expresses Concern Over Bequest Controversy

7 February 2006

Royal New Zealand Spca Expresses Concern Over Bequest Controversy

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The Royal New Zealand SPCA is concerned over the controversy surrounding a major bequest to the Society.

Under the Betty Napier Bequest, more than $1 million was left to the Royal New Zealand SPCA's national body for the benefit of animals in the Western Bay of Plenty. Critics have urged that the funding be transferred to the SPCA's Tauranga branch.

"This bequest was left unambiguously to our national body and equally unambiguously for use in the Western Bay of Plenty. We are under an obligation to honour the wishes of the deceased in both respects," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's National Chief Executive, Robyn McDonald.

"We would be failing in our duty if we simply washed our hands of responsibility and handed the monies over to our Tauranga branch. Similarly, we would be failing a generous benefactor if we frittered the bequest away on the basis of instantaneous decisions. We are honour-bound to apply good processes and due deliberation in deciding how the bequest should be put to work," she adds.

To ensure wise usage of the funds, the Royal New Zealand SPCA is setting up an advisory committee, which will include its National President and Chief Executive, along with representatives of the SPCA's Tauranga and Waihi branches and one of the executors of Betty Napier's estate.

This committee is to report back with proposals to the SPCA's National Council, which will then decide how the money can be best used to benefit animals in the Western Bay of Plenty.

"An unusually large and generous donation of this type is most appropriately used to fund a project of lasting value which could probably not be realised without a substantial one-off injection of funds.

"In the nature of things, such projects require careful consideration. We have set up an interest-bearing trust, to ensure that the level of funding increases while decisions are being made," says Robyn McDonald.

"We are distressed to learn that our Tauranga branch has suffered a fall in donation income, apparently in response to news of this bequest. There is no logic to this situation as the Tauranga SPCA's regular annual needs far exceed any funding that the bequest might have supplied.

"Rather than a one-off infusion of funds, our Tauranga branch requires the steady, ongoing support of a caring community. We appeal to animal-loving people in and around Tauranga to continue providing funding for the excellent work performed, year in year out, by their local SPCA," she says.

Robyn McDonald adds that local donations to the Tauranga SPCA are supplemented by a share of the proceeds of nationally-organised fundraising and sponsorship activities.

ENDS

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