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Graham Malaghan retires as Chairman

13 December 2023

This week Graham Malaghan stepped down from the role of Chairman of the Malaghan Institute after more than 30 years, passing the mantle to his deputy, Sir Paul Collins.

The historic occasion was marked and celebrated in a number of ways, including with his family at a Malaghan stakeholder event, where Hon Judith Collins acknowledged his remarkable service; and with staff and fellow trustees where he was presented with a Mere Pounamu, a symbol of chieftainship, and given the title of Chair Emeritus.

Graham’s parents, Len and Ann Malaghan, were fundamental to the creation of what is now the Malaghan Institute. In 1966, Graham, along with his brother Neil and sister Margaret, witnessed their parents gift an initial 100,000 shares of their company, General Foods, to seed the organisation, with a desire to fund research into diseases of the blood, particularly cancer.

Graham stepped in again at a time when the institute was bearing the brunt of the 1987 stock market crash. According to Director Professor Graham Le Gros, it was Graham’s tremendous sense of loyalty to his mother and what she and his father had intended for their money and the community, that propelled him to get stuck in and help turn things around for the organisation.

“The things that he has taught me about loyalty, about commitment to the job – never, ever giving up, and never being afraid to just take whatever challenge comes your way. I think that comes from his past, from his family and his workmates.”

Graham Le Gros says it is no understatement that Graham’s passion and leadership has made an impact on every facet of the Malaghan Institute and has shaped it to the world-class organisation it is today.

In 2009 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Victoria University of Wellington for his key role in rebuilding the Malaghan Institute into the largest independent medical research organisation in New Zealand. Graham was made an Officer of the Order of Merit for his services to medical research and philanthropy in 2012.

“Over the last 30 years, Graham and I have built an incredibly strong working relationship with a shared vision for the institute and the need to support independent biomedical research that has real-world impact for New Zealand. We also share a commitment to fostering future science leaders.

“I believe part of the reason Graham can step back from his position with confidence is thanks to the calibre of people he has helped cultivate at the Malaghan Institute, and seeing some of our long-term goals of translating research for the benefit of the community come to fruition.”