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A crash, a rescue and a new start

6 September 2016

By John Beattie, trustee and 50th Anniversary chair.


Virtually overnight, the 1987 share market crash brought the Malaghan Institute to the verge of insolvency as the returns on its investments were being relied on to fund the ongoing research. Without immediate support, the Institute would have been required to cease its researchactivities.

Tom Collins, an original trustee and former chairman, was the father of P.D. (now Sir Paul) Collins who was chief executive of Brierley Investments (BIL) at that time. BIL had survived the crash and was able to continue its operations in what were very challenging times for many other businesses in New Zealand.

Paul Collins asked me to have a look at the help required and report back. I contacted Graham Malaghan and together with Alan Harris, the new chairman, we constructed a rescue package. It was designed to financially underpin the Institute and to widen its support in the community, thereby preventing a recurrence of the 1987 events. (Sylvia Bennett also created the Friends of the Malaghan Institute about the same time.)

BIL agreed to the rescue package and committed $100,000 per year for the next five years, which eventually totaled beyond $1.3 million over 15 years.

Graham Malaghan, his brother Neil and his sister Margaret made equally substantial commitments and invested huge quantities of time and energy to resuscitate the Institute over that period. 

Graham became the chairman in 1990 and remains so today. Margaret and Neil became early pillars of the Auckland Friends. Later Matthew Malaghan, grandson of Len and Ann and son of Graham and Dale, became involved in the Auckland Friends and later a trustee.Three generations of tireless generosity. 

Other long-term supporters must be acknowledged and I thank the Wellington Medical Research Foundation, the Wellington Division of the Cancer Society, Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Otago, the Health Research Council, New Zealand gaming trusts and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for our critical multi-year funding.

Some contributors have made extraordinary gestures in recent times. These include Wade Thompson and the Thompson Family Foundation, the Hugh Green Foundation, Infinity Foundation Limited, the Dr Marjorie Barclay Trust, as well as the Taylor, Johnson, Patterson and Wallace families.

Final acknowledgements must go to the Institute’s world class team of science leaders, staff and students. Their efforts have made the latter years of the first 50 the most significant in terms of discovery. I look forward with anticipation to seeing where the next 50 years of our journey will take us.