The Fundermentalist blog – The Sutherland Self Help Trust: From apples to altruism

June 25, 2019


After the raging success of her first blog (not really), Yvonne Trask, Relationship and Events Manager at Philanthropy NZ presents her much awaited second blog on a PNZ founding member.


Alongside the Trust’s manager Ben Sutherland, I embrace the irony of this historic picture of Sutherland’s ‘wall of bacon’.  Ben is an outspoken vegan. Perhaps this is why.



Philanthropy New Zealand is now 29 years old (still living at home and thinking of starting a rock band in the garage) and it is with great pride that we note how many of our founding members continue to be key players in the philanthropic world.  We have a few photographs of our members in the ‘80s filed away at PNZ and I have to say there are some awesome hairdos in there.  Today I’d like to talk about one of our founding member trusts, Sutherland Self Help.

As many of you will already be aware, the Sutherland Self Help Trust was created out of the Self Help Cooperative, New Zealand’s first self-service (as in supermarket style) grocery store chain that focused on keeping costs low and even environmentally sustainable with customers bringing their own recycled paper and string to wrap their groceries in. How very 2019 of them in 1922. Or perhaps how 1922 we are fast becoming, much to the benefit of our planet.

The Sutherland Self Help Trust, which was created by the family in 1941, has a very broad mission and so has adopted an agile model that shifts its focus every year.  In 2019 the Trust is focusing its energies on the elderly and will be on the hunt for excellent community organisations that support our nation’s fast growing population of retirees.  Last year the Trust’s focus was on the quake damaged Kaikoura region and an impressive number of buildings benefited from nearly $1 million in grants for earthquake strengthening and rebuilding.

Since its inception the Trust has distributed a present day value of over $70 million in grants.  Sutherland family members and trustees are regular knowledge contributors to PNZ’s projects and will have been spotted among the many delegates at our Summit.

As the Trust explains, their 2019 direction was dictated by change: “In 2017 the Care and Support Workers Settlement Bill passed to redress the undervaluation of about 55,000 predominantly female aged-care and disability workers. Over a five year period, the bill seeks to support the principle that men and women should be paid the same for doing different jobs that are of equal value.  To support the transition of aged care facilities to achieve the principles of pay equality and improved elderly care, for 2019 we will focus our capital expenditure funding to assist the elderly.” – Sutherland Self Help Trust.

By Yvonne Trask, Relationships and Event Manager at Philanthropy New Zealand.