Queenstown and Central Otago are benefiting from the dedication of Irish immigrant Hugh Green who had a high profile in New Zealand not only as a successful businessman but also as a significant philanthropist. Today a charity set up in his name ensures his legacy of giving continues.
The Hugo Charitable Trust established in 2017 by Hugh’s daughter Maryanne, with a capital base of $75 million, has donated more than $10 million nationally to charitable causes around New Zealand, with over $500,000 so far distributed in Central Otago.
Trust chairman Mark Owens says they are committed to helping where they can in the region and were the first to put up their hand when the Wakatipu Greatest Needs Fund was launched during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
“We acted quickly when approached for $50,000 seed funding to establish the fund which was used to support immigrant workers, pleasing in itself considering Hugh Green, who died in 2012, was once an immigrant worker.”
Funding has also been provided to the Wakatipu High School philanthropic programme Generation Give and the Wakatipu Wildlife Trust.
One of the key charities to benefit from the Hugo Trust is the Living Options Charitable Trust which was set up in 2001 in Alexandra to cater for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, providing them with support services to live independently in their own community.
In March last year they donated a further $100,000 to Living Options towards the renovations of a house leased in Arrowtown as a day activity centre for Wakatipu people, also with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Meanwhile the Hugh Green Family Trust identified a gap locally for accommodation for Kiwis who might otherwise find it difficult to have a holiday.
Mark says as a result the Trust purchased a house at Lake Hayes naming it Hugo House in Hugh Green’s memory.
“We thought let’s make it nice for people who can’t currently enjoy Lake Hayes, as we count ourselves so lucky to live here.”
The property was converted to create a more accessible home for everyone who visits. It is wheelchair friendly and includes electrically adjustable hospital beds.
“Since opening in 2018 there have been over 70 charities and families who have holidayed at the house free of charge,” says Hugo Trust CEO Aoibheann Monaghan. “ We are booked ahead for several months and so far it has all been through word of mouth. The demand for this type of facility is very high because it is so accessible and we believe there is nothing else like it in the region.”
The Hugo Trust intends to continue to make its presence felt in 2021 assisting the less fortunate in the community, following the lead of its namesake.
“As well as receiving applications we go out and look for the greatest needs,” says Aoibheann. “We look for charities working under the radar that might not necessarily have the money to go and do that fancy website or have the big marketing team behind them but they’re doing really good work.”