He oranga tamariki, he oranga whānau, he oranga tāngata

Imagine an Aotearoa New Zealand where all our children, young people and mokopuna flourish.

The J R McKenzie Trust has launched the Peter McKenzie Project (PMP), a $17m fund established to create change which reduces the number of children and families living in poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand.

PMP’s aim is not to create this change by delivering programmes and services, but by improving the systems and structures which mean families move into or stay in poverty. The project is doing this by supporting a small number of initiatives (see below) and by working to support the people doing this important work.

We are working on new content for this page, and will have more detail soon. In the meantime, you may like to check out some local resources from The Workshop on how best to talk about poverty and wellbeing.

About Us

  • Peter McKenzie

    Peter McKenzie, a grandson of Sir John McKenzie, was instrumental in establishing and leading the Jayar Trust, which funds the Peter McKenzie Project. Peter wanted the fund to make a substantial difference to the lives of New Zealanders. He seeded the idea of spending all of the Trust’s funds on one area of focus over a period of up to 20 years.  Sadly, Peter died in 2012.  The project has been named in his honour.

Initiatives supported

Tokona te Raki: Māori Futures Collective

We are a new Ngāi Tahu-led collaborative established to increase Māori participation, success and progression in education and employment outcomes.

Our goal is to achieve equity in education, employment and income for all Ngāi Tahu and Māori in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā by 2040. We want to tackle poverty and inequality by ensuring our rangatahi are supported into the jobs of the future to become the rock stars of our community. Our legacy will be a world where all Māori are inspired by their futures, confident in their culture, prosperous in their careers and succeeding as Māori.

Our approach:

  1. Create transformational education & training pathways to connect whānau to the jobs of the future
  2. Work across education, employers, agencies & whānau to build an integrated careers system to boost Māori outcomes
  3. Move beyond business as usual by supporting partners to create new solutions, innovate, learn & adapt

Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga – a New Zealand Alliance

A new Alliance is forming in Aotearoa. It will be comprised of community, union, faith and other relevant groups from across civil society in Auckland. The purpose of this Alliance is to reduce child poverty by addressing the causes of poverty in families and communities, so the City of Auckland flourishes.

The Alliance is a broad-based community organisation that fosters active citizenship and civil society leaders with the ability to negotiate with decision-makers toward systemic and structural change. Communities know what is wrong, they know what has to change but to fix the way things currently work in Aotearoa requires a breadth of leadership from many organisations that gives voice to these issues, and disciplined organisation that ensures these voices are heeded.

The vision of the Alliance is to build a broad-based alliance that will bring a new community organising model to the challenge of growing community voice and power. This is a vision that gives hope that after 30 years of failure through deficit models of social change, something new can emerge. It aims to:

  • Facilitate the organisation of communities in Aotearoa toward a future where children and families flourish;
  • Encourage and promote systemic and structural change in Trust that will result in the alleviation of poverty;
  • Raise public awareness and understanding of the issues associated with well-being in the communities of Aotearoa;
  • Develop the capacity and skills of the members of communities to engage in active citizenship for the revitalisation of democracy.

WhyOra? Māori Health Careers

Our younger and faster growing age structure means Maori will make up an increasing proportion of the student population and workplace. However, inequity resides in the current system which is represented through lower educational and income outcomes for Maori. Unless strategies are embedded to address these issues, the current system will work to compound and replicate this inequity, creating a continuing cycle of marginalisation.

WhyOra aims to ensure the Taranaki health workforce is responsive to the needs of Māori through operationally and strategically developing Māori health workforce capacity and capability. Reducing inequalities in healthcare access and health outcomes requires both a robust Māori workforce and a culturally competent non-Māori health workforce who understand inequalities and what perpetuates them.

You can find out more about WhyOra at their website: www.whyora.co.nz

The Workshop: Using values, research, and story to build a more inclusive New Zealand

New Zealand can be a country in which all families thrive thrive. Researchers, advocates and practitioners work incredibly hard to create that future, but face significant barriers. Strong cultural beliefs and narratives about issues like poverty can prevent people from believing and acting on what we know is needed to create a better future for all families.

To build public and political support for the solutions supported by evidence, we need to offer people more accurate and compelling stories that explain family poverty and its solutions in a different and more cohesive way. Changes in expert communications lead to changes in the public conversation, which influences how people think, and ultimately to policy change.

The Workshop undertakes research to find ways of communicating that shift people's thinking to act on best evidence. We train people in different fields of practice to apply these ways of communicating. How do we do this?

We seek to understand.

Using mixed methods including interviews, focus groups and text analysis, we seek to understand:

  • the issues that matter to people, especially those who are most excluded;
  • the best evidence on solutions that work to achieve collective wellbeing; and
  • how the public currently understands and explains key problems and solutions.

We test new ways of communicating to motivate.

Using robust mixed methods of research, we develop and test messages, frames and new ways of communicating to ensure people in the public and policy see and act upon best evidence.

We share our learning.

We develop practical tools and train people across fields of practice. When experts and advocates across a fields of practice use the same effective messages, frames and stories, this leads to a change in discourse and people’s thinking about an issue.

You can find out more about The Workshop at their website: www.theworkshop.org.nz

Community Housing Aotearoa

Convened through Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA), The Shift Aotearoa creates a platform to discuss and understand what a well-functioning housing system means in Aotearoa, how it can be achieved, and what that looks like in real life.

The essential framework of The Shift Aotearoa operates across 3 significant fields: the international, in which we interrogate the role and correlation of UN jurisprudence in relation to Te Tiriti, and where we import, export, share, and modify understandings relating to The Shift and The Shift Aotearoa; the national, in which we develop a clear picture of the domestic social and policy structures involved in this kaupapa; and the cultural/local/community, where The Shift Aotearoa really starts and ends, and finds strength, inspiration, and relevance for New Zealanders.

CHA is the umbrella group, or peak body, for the community housing sector. Our members provide a wide range of homes throughout New Zealand in partnership with researchers, government agencies, councils, iwi, churches, developers, community groups and others. More information about CHA is available at communityhousing.org.nz

Our vision is for all New Zealanders to be well-housed. That means good, affordable, warm, safe homes in locations that enable individuals, whānau and communities to thrive; part of an inoculation against intergenerational poverty. As a country, we all benefit when people have a place to call home. Life becomes settled and less stressful, children are able to stay in school and people in their jobs, and families are able to get the social and health services they need.

The Committee

  • Jonathan Usher (Chair)

    A Rotary appointee on the J R McKenzie Trust, Jonathan is a businessman and entertainer, and volunteers for community organisations in his home town Dunedin.

  • Lili Tuioti

    Lili Tuioti has been a J R McKenzie Trustee since 2018. Lili has a great deal of experience in the education sectors in New Zealand and the Pacific and has held governance roles in education and community sectors. She now works for the Salvation Army in Wellington.

  • Manaia King

    Manaia King is Waikato Tainui, Ngati Haua and Ngati Koroki Kahu Kura. He is the current Chair of J R McKenzie Trust Board and General Manager Partnerships and Programmes in the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). Manaia has a particular passion for improving the health and wellbeing of Māori.

  • Joan Smith

    Joan Smith is a Rotarian and Deputy Chair of the JR McKenzie Trust Board. She has previously held General Manager, Chief Economist and Policy Manager positions in government departments and crown agencies.

  • Tracey McIntosh

    Ngāi Tūhoe, Tracey is a Professor at the University of Auckland with strong interests in marginalisation and crime. On multiple boards, Tracey co-chaired a seminal committee on solutions to child poverty.

  • Gael Surgenor

    Director of Community and Social Innovation for Auckland Council’s The Southern Initiative, Gael is a highly respected social innovator.

  • Lani Evans

    Experience with youth and social enterprise, now manages the Vodafone Foundation where she is among the country’s most innovative leaders in philanthropy.

  • Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni

    Sailau is a Samoan academic focused on sociology and criminology at the University of Auckland. She is committed to strengthening the Pacific academic and research workforce capacity and to promoting indigenous research and evaluation knowledge

  • Mike O’Brien

    Mike O’Brien is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland with recent research on child poverty, welfare reform and social services. He has been committed to reducing poverty for many years and is a leading member of the Child Poverty Action Group.


  • Melissa Campbell

    A Rotary appointee on the J R McKenzie Trust, Melissa is a practising lawyer with Māori and non-Māori whakapapa.

  • Barbara McLennan

    Barbara is an experienced in community-led development practice, policy and research and especially cross-sector collaboration. Her current major focus is on locally-led economic development enabling inclusive growth.

  • Shana Malio-Satele

    Shana is a first-generation New Zealand born Samoan, and Director of the MATES youth mentoring programme for students from low-income communities. She was a recipient of a Vodafone New Zealand Foundation World of Difference Award.


Child poverty

Child poverty monitor: http://www.childpoverty.co.nz/

Systems change

Systems Change – A Living Example

Gael Surgenor & Brenda Hayward

This article explores the current landscape of social and economic change, and how the status quo can’t provide the transformative change needed to address social issues at their roots. The article speaks about The Southern Initiative as an example of systems change in action.

What Exactly Do We Mean by Systems?

Dan Vexler 22
June 2017 Stanford Innovation Review

This is a short article that discusses what exactly is meant when we talk about systems.

Systems change and how to do it

Rob Abercrombie, Ellen Harries and Rachel Wharton
June 2015 Lankelly Chase

This report aims to make sense of the literature, knowledge and learning about systems change to make it accessible. It is designed to be read by those who  want to embrace different ways of addressing societal challenges.

The Water of Systems Change

John Kania, Mark Kramer, Peter Senge
May 2018 FSG

The Water of Systems Change aims to clarify what it means to shift conditions and offers an actionable model for funders and others interested in creating systems change, particularly those who are working to advance equity.

Systems Grantmaking Resource Guide

Co-created by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Management Assistance Group
February 2016, GEO

This resource guide aims to help the reader unpack a systems change approach so they can apply it to their work, providing a selection of the most used and relevant system assessment tools, frameworks and processes for grantmakers and the social sector.


To find out more about the Peter McKenzie Project, contact the J R McKenzie Trust.