Property Council Members’ Laureate, Sir Mark Dunajtschik has made an enduring commitment to Te Upoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui the Greater Wellington region by leaving a gift in his will and establishing a foundation in his name. Grants from The Mark Dunajtschik Foundation are set to make a transformational difference in the lives of the people living with disability throughout the Greater Wellington region.
“I made my money in Wellington, and I plan to leave it here when I go,” says the Wellington property developer and committed philanthropist. For those who know Sir Mark, these plans will come as no surprise. Sir Mark, together with his life and business partner Dorothy Spotswood, have a long history of giving back to our city.
From being an early supporter of the Michael Fowler Centre, to what is now the Life Flight Trust to the new Wellington Regional Children’s Hospital Te Wao Nui in Newtown, a commitment to fund a mental health unit at Hutt Hospital and, most-recently, a $10 million gift to Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Engineering, it’s difficult to walk down the street without passing a tactile reminder of the couple’s generosity.
The legacy of Sir Mark Dunajtschik
Leaving a gift in his will was always something that Sir Mark planned on doing.
“Dorothy and I have had our bit in life, so now we want to make sure our good fortune is passed on to others once we go,” he explains.
Sir Mark had a specific vision for how he wanted this gift to benefit the community, and he wanted to ensure he found the perfect strategic partner with which to leave his estate. He also wanted his bequest to continue to benefit Wellington (his home of over 60 years) long into the future.
“This place gave me my first leg-up in life, and I wanted to reinvest in the city that made me,” says Sir Mark. “The last thing I wanted was to donate the money only for it to be spent down within a few years,” he explains. “It needed to have staying power and continue to give back for years after I’ve kicked the bucket.”
Once realised, the bequest left by Sir Mark will be one of the largest given by an individual in Aotearoa New Zealand’s history.
A safe pair of hands
As the Greater Wellington region’s community foundation, Nikau Foundation was a great fit for Sir Mark’s future giving goals. “I have been following Nikau for a number of years – since the Foundation had only one fund on the books. Nikau is focused on local, and I trust them implicitly to give in the way I want,” Sir Mark adds.
“We are so proud to be chosen as the guardian of this incredible gift to Wellington,” says Nikau Foundation Chair Dame Fran Wilde. “It is an honour to continue Sir Mark’s legacy in this incredibly meaningful way.”
“Sir Mark has been a wonderful supporter of Nikau over the years, helping us grow into the Foundation we are today. It is a privilege to be working alongside Sir Mark and Dorothy to shape what will become The Mark Dunajtschik Foundation,” says Nikau Foundation Executive Director Emma Lewis.
“Mark and Dorothy have a very clear vision,” she says. “We are committed to ensuring this is realised, long into the future.”
Enduring support for disabled people
Consistent with many of his philanthropic endeavours to date (including a $2 million commitment to support Hōhepa Homes for special needs children and adults with an intellectual disability), grants from The Mark Dunajtschik Foundation, once operational, will make a transformational difference in the lives of people living with physical and intellectual disabilities.
“I always say that people born with good health can make their own way, but some are in need of a bit of extra help,” says Sir Mark.
About Nikau Foundation
Nikau Foundation is Te Upoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui the Greater Wellington region’s community foundation.
With a mission to build healthy, thriving and resilient communities, Nikau Foundation builds reliable long-term funding streams to support the people and places of our region today, tomorrow and forever. Now the guardian of almost $32 million, Nikau Foundation is committed to creating transformational change for our communities, ensuring everyone has the tools and resources they need to flourish.
Along with The Mark Dunajtschik Foundation, Nikau Foundation is also the sole trustee of the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation; a philanthropic foundation that supports legal research, education and scholarships throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.