Rua & Clarrie Stevens
Charitable Trust

Est 1970

The greater part in us will never die’

Text Box: Empowering Women

Trust 40th Anniversary

29th September 2010 — Trust’s 40th Anniversary

Today is a VERY PROUD DAY FOR ME PERSONALLY AS IT marks our Trusts 40th anniversary!! What a fascinating, rewarding journey this has been & makes me feel life is so precious and exciting!

40 years ago the  original Trust Deed was signed by my late father, Clarrie, Mrs. Joan Chadwick, ( his legal secretary for over 35 years) and myself.

The Trust’s true genesis  is quite a remarkable yet simple story told now on this auspicious occasion shared for the very first time:

A few weeks after Rua’s passing Clarrie and I were sitting in the lounge of our Dunedin home and I commented to Clarrie, “Everyone tells me that we must now just move on, now that Rua has  gone and yet in my soul something is telling me that there is more to life than that sort of superficial attitude to life, isn’t there something more that you and I should do effectively to remember my Mum  than accept that this is what life is all about?” ( I was 22 years at the time- very, very, idealistic!!! Still am!!!)

Fortuitously  I was blessed with a very wise and intelligent father! Who commented, “Yes I have been giving a lot of thought about how we could, in our own modest way, honor the memory of Rua. What do you think about our establishing a memorial Charitable Trust that would epitomize her values and support the great causes that she so much loved and believed in”.

And so within two months of her passing through leukemia a memorial Trust was established! To say it was up and running is a bit of an exaggeration to say the least!! We had no spare capital to establish an endowment fund But we certainly had the passion the “love” and the “will” to work over the next many years to create a modest capital fund from scratch and in fact  we disbursed our first grants in 1971,  funded principally personally by Clarrie & myself. ( see attached article re 1972 grants as this was the start of  supporting two Not For Profits in particular, RNZB and the Himalayan Trust both of whom are still recipients today!)

The Himalayan Trust was established by the late Sir Edmund Hillary in 1961 and next year they celebrate their 50th anniversary in Katmandu- Nepal, Penny & I plan to be there!!

I have tremendous affection towards this Trust, in particular, as it represents the very best of human ideals and the late Sir Edmund Hillary’s dedication and loyalty until his passing, to his Sherpa friends.

In 1995 with Clarrie’s passing 25 years to the day of Rua’s passing the Trusts name was changed to Rua & Clarrie Stevens Charitable Trust, as per the Trustees resolution,” In recognition of, and in tribute to, the outstanding contribution made to the Rua Stevens Charitable Trust by the late Clarence Henry Somerville Stevens who initiated the creation of the Trust and was primarily responsible for the investment decisions which have resulted (at that time), in the Trust now being in the strong financial position it enjoys today. The Rua Stevens Charitable Trust shall be henceforth known as “Rua and Clarrie Stevens Charitable Trust.”

The other aspect that I truly love is that from day one both Clarrie and I would each year make annual cash gifts to the Trust- admittedly very modest- but that tradition has become very deep rooted in my whole being  the gifts began with a few hundred dollars a year and these days are a few thousand a year- the amount is never the issue as it is the “consistency” of giving that is SO important, it is immaterial as to whether it is a hundred or a thousand dollars to my mind the key is “consistency of giving.”

In our very modest Trust this year is also marked by our total grant distributions over the life of the Trust exceeding $1million, quite a milestone in our case!!

We are marking today’s anniversary by attending tonight the APO launch of their 2011 with a pre-view concert followed by an after concert function. What better way to celebrate such an auspicious occasion than with one of our Art recipients so beloved by Rua followed by a Very “special” dinner that Penny and I are hosting with our advisory Trustees, Darren & Victoria Priday-  representing a new generation coming into the Trust of which both Penny and I are so very enthusiastic about!

Early next year the Trustees will host a Trust Family Anniversary Dinner at Parnell's Rose Gardens which will be a real hum dinger of a celebration and which I am looking forward to with great excitement  (this is the closest date to Clarrie’s birthday when we host our celebrations).

The Trust’s senior Trustee (and outstandingly successful investment guru) Mr. Alex Burt and his wife Carolyn will be flying in from Sydney to join us, plus Christina Berton from Mexico City (patron and mentor of Penny’s Foundation “The Liberty of Being Me”) plus we have a  fantastic key note speaker- Mr. John Prendergast- Chair of Philanthropy NZ and CEO of the Southland Community Trust, live music from a string quartet from the APO and a solo singer from the NZ Youth Choir. Plus a DVD produced especially for the event!!

AND Chris  Skinner will perform a tune that he wrote specifically in memory of my late father-sang it at his funeral in 1995-and sang it at our Trusts 30th bash- PURE MAGIC!!

And equally importantly!!! attending will be representatives of  the “Trusts Family of recipients” and family supporters of our Charitable Trust!

To further commemorate our 40th  anniversary year the Trustees are distributing this year, by way of grants, a record total sum of over $71,000 distributed to 17 Not For Profit Organizations. This includes a large investment, (by our standards)  of $21,500 in the establishment and operational costs of Penny’s new Foundation, “The Liberty of Being Me” and our delight and pleasure in being able to also ensure that the Trusts longstanding grantees have also continued to be financially supported in this year of financial recovery- plus increased funding to  the expansion in Penny’s Migrant and  Refugee Programme for Women,-(which aims to encourage integration into their new country) now expanded to two Auckland suburbs- from Ellerslie and now to Royal Oak. This super project was started by Penny some 10 years ago and last year received recognition at the United Nations.

It has been “tremendous fun” working alongside Penny’s team setting up her new Foundation!  In 2000 I was a Foundation Trustee of the Tamaki Pathways Trust (working with young people in Glen Innes) and that was also equally an exhilarating experience as we created that Trust again from a dream of one person, Judge Peter Boshier.  Earlier this year it celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The past two years have certainly been both quite remarkable and extraordinary  as we have both absorbed and recovered from the “Great Financial Crisis” and continued to focus on our longstanding philosophy introduced in the year of our Trust’s “Silver Jubilee” in 1995 of long term funding of  programmes to the “Trusts Family of Grantees” rather than the scatter gun approach of one-off grants.

As a nation, in this day & age we NEED, more than ever, generous folk with Big hearts &  GREAT dreams and the sturdy resilience to see through those GREAT dreams!

This has been a most exhilarating time in my life and totally re-energizes the soul!!

This is a most fantastic time to be alive and to be so intimately involved with so many folk in our very diverse Trust Family of Beneficiaries- May God continue to richly bless each of you and may you continue to ENJOY AND SAVOR THE MAGIC OF EVERY DAY!!


With Love,

Lee ( Co-founding Trustee)