Who We Are

Staff Members

The staff, trustees and volunteers at the J R McKenzie Trust are the current stewards of the legacy of one of New Zealand’s generous families – Sir John and Lady May McKenzie and their descendants. The Trust employs five staff and has a large network of volunteers, who are involved in assessing grant applications and supporting organisations around the country. The Trust Board comprises 13 volunteers, which includes McKenzie Family members, Rotarians and other appointees.

  • Robyn Scott - Executive Director

    Robyn Scott has been the Executive Director of the J R McKenzie Trust since May 2017. She has held many senior roles in both Government and the not-for-profit sector including Director, Ministry of Youth Development; CEO, Age Concern NZ; and CEO, Philanthropy NZ. Robyn has a passion for making a difference which drives her commitment to the J R McKenzie Trust vision of a socially just and inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand. She has held several governance roles and is an alumnus of Leadership NZ. She is married to David and has two adult children. She divides her time between her home in Wellington City and her bach, ‘Gladys-by-the-Sea’.

  • Iain Hines – Director, Peter McKenzie Project

    Iain Hines runs the Peter McKenzie Project, which seeks to help create an Aotearoa New Zealand where all our children, young people and mokopuna flourish, and to reduce the number of children and families living in poverty.  In April 2017 he vacated the role of Executive Director after 20 years in the position.  Of Scottish and English heritage, Iain was born and grew up in Wellington.  In 2002 he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study aspects of philanthropy.  He was on the Ngāi Tahu Funds Committee, and a Board member of Philanthropy New Zealand, each for ten years.

  • Marama Tākao – Pou Ārahi

    Ko Ngāi Tūhoe, ko Te Āti Awa, ko Ngāti Rārua, ko Ngāti Toa Rangatira, ko Ngāti Tama, ko Ngāi Tahu hoki ngā Iwi o Marama Tākao, te Kaitohutohu / Māori Development and Funding Advisor. Marama joined the J R McKenzie Team in 2010 after working for many years with the Department of Internal Affairs. Prior to that, she worked for Consumer Affairs, Community Volunteers, and the Māori Resource Centre, Rēhua Marae, Ōtautahi. She lives in Ōtaki in close proximity to her fabulous mokopuna and whānau. Whaia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuoh u koe me he maunga teitei: Seek that which is most precious, if you should bow let it be to a lofty mountain.

  • Eileen Kelly – Grants Advisor / Programme Manager

    Eileen joined the team in 2015 after a long career in International Development where she gained most of her senior management experience working with health and community development NGOs in North and South East Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific. She has worked as a Country Project manager and consultant for NZAID, AusAID, UNFPA, EC, World Bank, Asia Development Bank and WHO and participated in a number of UN Special Assembly meetings on women, population and development, and HIV and AIDS as a New Zealand NGO representative. Since returning to Aotearoa New Zealand Eileen’s passions are her three grandchildren and singing with her community choir, The Glamaphones.

  • Beverley Richards – Trust Coordinator

    In her role, Beverley looks after the Trust’s administration and office coordination, grant enquiries and supports the Trust’s boards and committees.  Beverley has a background in management in the IT and Education sector including as General Manager of a large group of Early Childhood services, working in the Ministry of Education, and as General Manager of a privately owned tertiary education provider.  She has been a Board Member of NZ Kindergartens Inc and the Common Unity Aotearoa Project.

Board of Trustees

  • Manaia King – Chair of J R McKenzie Trust Board

    Manaia King is Waikato Tainui, Ngati Haua and Ngati Koroki Kahu Kura. Manaia is a public health lawyer and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in 2005. He is currently General Manager Partnerships and Programmes in the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). Prior to MSD, Manaia was with the Ministry of Health leading their Chronic Diseases Prevention Team. Manaia sees himself as a social justice and equity advocate and has a particular passion for improving the health and wellbeing of Māori. Manaia was appointed to the J R McKenzie Trust Board in 2012.

  • Joan Smith – Deputy Chair of the J R McKenzie Trust Board and Wellington Panel Chair

    Joan Smith is a Rotary Trustee representing District 9940 which encompasses the Wellington region. Joan is Treasurer, Life Member and a Past President of the Institute of Public Administration NZ, a mentor and Life Member of the Institute of Management, Trustee of the Dowse Foundation, and Chair of a farming company. Prior to this she held General Manager, Chief Economist and Policy Manager positions in Government Departments and Crown Agencies in the transport, education, forestry and agricultural sectors. She counts not-for-profit governance and mentoring as her current professional interests.

  • Chris McKenzie – Trustee and Family Representative

    Chris McKenzie is currently serving his second term as a Trustee and representative of the McKenzie Family. He is the grandson of Sir Roy and his wife Lady Shirley McKenzie and is based in Christchurch. Chris is married to Miriam and has two daughters. He works in IT for Pegasus Health.

  • Anna Gibson – Trustee and Family Representative

    Anna Gibson is the granddaughter of Sir Roy and his wife Lady Shirley McKenzie and lives in Wanaka with her husband and two young children. She has been a Trustee and representative of the McKenzie Family since late-2016. Anna is a Chartered Accountant who started her career with Deloitte then worked at Intergen in Wellington for 6 years and now works part-time for Mons Royale in Wanaka.

  • Dr Chelsea Grootveld - Trustee

    Chelsea is Ngaitai, Ngāti Porou, Whānau-a-Apanui, Whakatōhea, Te Arawa. After working alongside Te Kāwai Toro to develop their inaugural strategy, Chelsea was appointed as a Trustee in 2016. She is the chair of Te Kāwai Toro and a member of the CEC Committee. Chelsea has a strong public policy background and specialises in education research and evaluation. She completed her PhD in Education at Victoria University and, in 2013, started her own research company, Aiko Consultants. Chelsea is proud mother to Kahuroa and Mihi-Terina and wife to Timoti. She is a sports-billy and enjoys Triathlon, trail running, yoga and surfing. Chelsea is currently a board intern on the SportNZ Board and trustee on the Hato Pāora Catholic Māori Boys College Board of Trustees. She is a proud advocate and Trustee for the Trust and is humbled by the vision and generosity of the McKenzie whānau.

  • Christine Scott – Trustee and Auckland Panel Chair 

    Appointed to the Board in 2015 as Rotary International District 9920’s representative, Christine is Chair of the Auckland Panel having served as a panel member for the previous decade. She is also a member of the Trust’s Executive Committee. Christine brings a commercial background to the Trust having been Managing Director of Royal & SunAlliance (now Suncorp Metway), and has considerable experience in not-for-profit governance (e.g. UNICEF NZ, The Rotary Club of Auckland Foundation, Auckland Kindergarten Association). Professionally, she is an independent corporate director and business advisor.  In her spare time, she is involved in water sports as a volunteer and participant.

  • Jonathan Usher – Trustee and Otago / Southland Panel Chair 

    Jonathan is a Rotary Trustee representing District 9980, the lower half of the South Island.  He has been a Trustee since 2013 and serves on the CEC and PMP committees. Living in Dunedin, Jonathan is a Retailer for Z Energy and operates six service stations in Dunedin and North Otago. In his spare time, Jonathan is a comedy magician performing more than 150 shows per year at parties, functions, conferences and events all over New Zealand and Australia. He has a passion for helping community groups and regularly volunteers his time either in a fundraising or governance capacity.

  • Jerry Norman – Trustee and Panel Chair of Auckland North

    Jerry hails from the Far North. A former teacher, his career includes time as Māori Liaison Officer at Auckland Technical Institute (now AUT), wide-ranging consultancy work, and a twenty-year tenure at the Ministry of Education until his retirement in mid-2018. Jerry has been a member of Rotary Club for nearly 30 years and has served as Club President. He is a Paul Harris Fellow and a Centurion. In 2018, Jerry became the Governor for Rotary District 9910. He has extensive governance experience and strong community connections where he has served in many capacities, from Chairman of North Harbour Māori Rugby Board, through to Justice of the Peace. Jerry has whakapapa connections to Tai Tokerau and Tanui iwi. He is fluent in Te Reo Māori and holds a Bachelor of Māori Studies. Jerry and his wife, Fay, have three children and eight grandchildren. The family enjoy spending time together taking part in outdoor, sporting and beach activities.

  • Aiolupotea Lili Tuioti – Trustee

    Lili hails from the villages of Lauli’i and Falelima in Samoa. She and her husband Turi, have four adult children. A former secondary school teacher, she worked as Education Advisor and Strategic Advisor to the Government of Tokelau for over ten years. Lili has had extensive board experience in organisations such as Foundation North, AUT and Education Council. She is currently Mission Services Manager, The Salvation Army Worship and Community Centre, Newtown, and serves as a board trustee for an Auckland secondary school. She is an advocate for equitable educational outcomes for all learners, to advance the health and wellbeing of all citizens and communities in Aotearoa.

  • Jay Farris – Trustee

    Talofa, Jay Farris is Samoan, and a first-generation New Zealander born of immigrant parents, who provided a legacy of authentic cultural and faith leadership to continue. She is a long time public and community servant with a passion and commitment to Māori and Pacific development, racial equity and social justice. She is an Educator at heart, and her teaching and learning philosophies are founded on her cultural indigenous capital, community development principles, and critical education pedagogies. Fa’afetai lava.

  • Melissa Campbell – Trustee and Panel Chair for Hamilton

    Melissa Campbell is Director of Campbell Law Ltd. which she established in 2011. She graduated from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts. Prior to establishing her own practice, she gained extensive experience at large accounting and law firms in Hamilton over a period of more than ten years.
    Her specialist areas are property and commercial transaction. She often works with individuals or people who own small to medium sized businesses in urban, rural and commercial and private property transactions, buying and selling of businesses, subdivisions, trusts, asset planning, leases, terms of trade, drafting contracts and Wills.
    Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family and leading an active sporting life. This means that she has a particular interest in nurturing the sportsmen and women of Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Louise Edwards

    Louise was appointed in March 2020 as the Rotary representative for the top half of the South Island. She is a Chartered Accountant and professional director with many years of experience across a number of industries, both in Aotearoa and overseas. She has held senior executive positions within the financial services industry and is an experienced leader with a wealth of financial management acumen. In conjunction with her busy corporate life, Louise has always maintained strong community sector links which include her work with the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, University of Canterbury Foundation, Christchurch Resettlement Services, Christchurch Earthquake Children’s Trust, Marlborough Kaikoura Trail Trust, Good Shepherd and Victim Support.

Family and History

Early Days

At the Conference of Rotary Clubs in Palmerston North in 1940, Sir John Robert McKenzie made a ‘munificent gift’ to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand. Through a donation of £100,000 plus one-third of the McKenzie’s Stores’ annual profits, the J R McKenzie Trust was born. Sir John’s words during his announcement at the Conference would prove prophetic:

“I have established a Trust which I hope will prove of benefit to the community, not only at present, but in the years to come.”

The J R McKenzie Trust has a long history of helping to build stronger communities, primarily through making grants to community organisations. Its vision of a socially just and inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand provides it with a touchstone as it seeks to contribute to longer term, fundamental change where fewer people are struggling, and there is less need for health and social services over time.

Sir John Robert McKenzie

One of seven children of Scottish immigrants, John was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1876. He served in the Victoria Bushmen’s Regiment during the Boer War until he was invalided home in 1901. In 1905, he established a ‘fancy goods’ store with his sister Ella which proved so successful, the pair quickly expanded inter-state. After holidaying in New Zealand in 1909, John decided to transfer his business and the first Aotearoa-based McKenzie’s Store was opened in Dunedin.

With a gift of £10,000, he established the first Trust to bear his name in 1938, the J R McKenzie Youth Education Trust. John McKenzie believed that a business should share its prosperity with those who had helped to make it prosperous and so this was quickly followed by the establishment of J R McKenzie Trust in 1940. The Trust’s initial beneficiaries were disabled servicemen, the Plunket Society, and children in need. In a true sign of the times, John McKenzie said, ‘New Zealand has no greater assets than its soldiers and its children, and the country’s future is in their hands.’

In 1949, he was recognised for his contribution to public welfare when he was made a Knight of the Order of the British Empire. Sir John was a humble but inspirational man who accomplished everything with quiet resolve, minimal fuss and maximum decency.

Sir John and his wife, May, raised two sons: Don, who was killed in WWII, and Roy, who expanded and embedded the Trust’s mahi. Sir John died in 1955.

Sir Roy McKenzie

Born in 1922, Roy McKenzie attended Timaru Boys High School and Otago University, where he studied accountancy. During the Second World War he served in the RNZAF and the RAF. In 1948, Sir Roy married Shirley Howard.  Together they had three children, Peter, John and Robyn, and nine grandchildren. From 1949 to 1970 he was the Executive Director for McKenzie’s (NZ) Ltd.

As the heir to the McKenzie’s retail empire, Sir Roy pledged more money than most people will ever earn and is known as one of the great New Zealand philanthropists. The causes he supported were numerous and varied including the establishment of the Te Omanga Trust, the first Women’s Refuge, as well as several schools for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

He donated the land on which Outward Bound sits, and is renowned for his kindness and willingness to work for people in need. He unassumingly saw himself as a ‘community volunteer’ and in 2004 was a winner of a Wellingtonian of the Year Award in the Community Service category.

Sir Roy sat on the J R McKenzie Trust Board from 1947 – 1993, Chairing it for 17 years. He was significantly involved in the governance of the J R McKenzie Youth Education Fund and also set up other grantmaking bodies such as:

  • the McKenzie Education Foundation (1966 – 85)
  • the Roy McKenzie Foundation (1986 – 95) – ground-breaking in its flexibility and innovation, this Foundation was instrumental in the establishment of Philanthropy New Zealand and Generosity New Zealand (originally known as the Funding Information Service).
  • the Deaf Decade Trust (1992 – present), which now operates as the Deaf Development Fund.

Sir Roy passed away in 2007.

  • See excerpts from Giving It All Away, a Paul Davidson documentary about the history of the family here.
  • Read a short history of the Trust from our 75th anniversary here.

Established by the McKenzie family, Rangatira Investments and the Jayar Charitable Trust are the primary sources of the Trust’s funding.

Annual dividend payments from the J R McKenzie Trust’s 51% shareholdings in Rangatira Investments supply the Trust with its operating and grantmaking budgets. Rangatira Limited is managed independently of the J R McKenzie Trust, and invests primarily in New Zealand businesses including Hellers and Rainbow’s End.

The Jayar Trust manages a separate investment portfolio for the Trust which funds the Peter McKenzie Project. It can accept bequests and sizeable donations to add to the capital of our Trust. Please email for more information.

Excerpts from "Giving it all Away"