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University of Otago receives largest donation ever of $10mil from alumnus

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The University of Otago is delighted to announce that internationally renowned businessman and philanthropist Graeme Hart and his wife Robyn are donating $10 million to the University - the most significant single donation in the University’s almost 150 year history.

The funding will be used to help develop a new $28.2 million dental teaching facility in South Auckland, announced earlier this year.

University of Otago Foundation Trust Chair John Ward, says the University is indebted to Mr and Mrs Hart. "We are immensely grateful to Graeme and the Hart family for their generosity," Mr Ward says.

"This funding will make a significant contribution to the development of a new dental teaching facility which will not only provide students with diverse practical learning opportunities, but will also provide dental care for the local diverse communities at a highly accessible cost."

Mr Hart, who lives in Auckland, is considered one of the most successful and generous businessmen to operate both within New Zealand and on a global scale. Last December he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Commerce degree by the University, in recognition of his contribution to the business sector and philanthropy by supporting education and children’s health.

Mr Hart is pleased the donation will help support both the University and the South Auckland community.

"We are delighted to be able to assist our University in providing a Dental School that will meet the needs of lower socio-economic groups. We are very pleased that the youth and young children of this region will benefit from this facility," Mr Hart says.

University of Otago Vice Chancellor Harlene Hayne says the University is most appreciative of the Hart family for their generous support of the University.

"The University of Otago remains highly committed to providing outstanding education and to contributing to the communities where our campuses are located. The Hart family’s donation will allow us to proceed with certainty on the development of our dental teaching facility in the Counties Manukau region and it will assist us in making a substantial positive difference to the healthcare and wider wellbeing of residents of New Zealand’s largest city," Professor Hayne says.

Mr Hart notes that he and family members are very thankful for having had the opportunity to study at the University of Otago, to have experienced life on the University of Otago campus, and to meet individuals there with global reach. He considers that undertaking a Master of Business Administration there was one of the most pivotal and influential experience of his career.

His research thesis outlined the strategy for Rank, then a small party hire company, to grow and it has indeed expanded to become the largest business enterprise in New Zealand - Rank Group - under which sits a vast global platform. The group has built and developed several substantial financial entities including Whitcoulls Group, Goodman Fielder and Carter Holt Harvey.

University of Otago Chancellor, Dr Royden Somerville QC, says that Mr and Mrs Hart’s extraordinarily generous gift is a major contribution to the provision of dental health care.

"Their significant philanthropic support of the University will sustain the excellence in research, teaching, and community outreach that the University of Otago is renowned for. Since the University of Otago was established in 1869, as New Zealand’s first university, philanthropy has been essential to sustaining its world-class reputation."

The University announced in August that it will build a dental teaching facility and patient treatment clinic in South Auckland to help meet high health needs, while providing students with wide-ranging learning opportunities in a diverse community.

The $28.2 million, two-storey, 32-chair building will be built at the Counties Manukau District Health Board’s Super Clinic site on Great South Road. Construction is expected to begin on the site in the near future.

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