Fraser McKenzie determined from the age of 10 that he wanted to be a dairy farmer, despite not growing up on a farm. The ‘city boy” attended Massey University and worked on farms from a young age, eventually buying a block of land at Ngakuru, south of Rotorua, which he and his wife Dorothy have now farmed for over 60 years.
Fraser also became involved at a much wider level in the farming sector, elected to the Bay of Plenty Harbour Board in 1974, becoming chairman in 1983 and chairman of the Harbours Association of New Zealand three years later. He became foundation chairman for Port of Tauranga Ltd, retiring after 30 years of service.
Dorothy and Fraser heard about Geyser Community Foundation and really liked the idea of giving back in perpetuity. They had got to the stage where they realised they had more than they need, and will probably be in a position to leave their children more than they need, so why not support the local community through Geyser, which helps others in need?
They began by contributing to the operating costs at Geyser, in its early days as a fledgling foundation. Over time, they also contributed to some of Geyser’s named funds, one to support speech therapy and another supporting migrants, as well as donating to the Rotorua Community Fund. From there, they helped to set up the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Rural Support Fund, providing the seed capital for the Fund to get it started. It’s a Fund which will support farmers in need. Dorothy and Fraser have also made provision in their wills to leave a gift to Geyser, to safeguard and to give back forever to the Rural Support Fund, supporting the local farming community forever.
They like the idea of the Community Foundation’s sustainable business model, and that you don’t have to be wealthy to contribute; everyone can donate. Dorothy and Fraser know there are people in the farming community who don’t have relatives or kids that they can leave their property to – there’s a great example in the South Island of farming brothers who are leaving their farm to their local community – and there is so much potential in New Zealand for people to do this. But people don’t have to wait, they can give now– anything they like and the great thing is that it will be invested and will give back forever.
Why do Dorothy and Fraser do it? They say giving makes them feel good. They believe they have been very lucky, that life has worked out ok for them. But they know there are lots of people who are struggling and need support. Not everyone has the same fortune in life, and Fraser and Dorothy are happy to help where they can. They feel very lucky to be able to give back to their local community in this way.