As many of you will be aware, John Mortimer, one of our foundational donors, passed away late last month at the age of 94.
John was a true philanthropist and deeply passionate about nature and conservation. With his wife Bunny, he gifted the Taitua Arboretum to the city of Hamilton in 1997, so their life’s work could be enjoyed by the public for generations to come.
The two dendrologists worked with trees for decades, co-authoring books, being heavily involved in New Zealand’s Farm Forestry Association and taking on local and national leadership roles in preserving the environment.
In the early 1970s the Taitua site was still 22 hectares of family farm. John and Bunny spent years collecting seeds and cuttings from across New Zealand, China, America and Australia, nurturing and then planting an amazing range of rare and exotic trees and shrubs. Hamilton’s wooded wonderland now gets 60,000 visitors a year.
The city council maintains the park well, but John and Bunny wanted to ensure it could continue to be developed and maintained forever. They chose Momentum Waikato to set a perpetual fund, from which Taitua Arboretum receives 100% distribution year after year. Their bequest will continue to grow, thanks to careful investment from Craigs Investment Partners and Forsyth Barr, our investment partners.
Other charities receiving direct gifts from the Mortimers through Momentum are the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, the New Zealand Native Forest Restoration Trust, Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, Tane’s Tree Trust and the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
John Mortimer was a noble community spirit that believed in the power of giving. Thanks from all of us, John, you will be missed and never forgotten.