Ian Crabtree Trust

Ian Crabtree was a man who saw that the way he lived his own life could positively affect the lives of others in the future.

He lived a rich and full life, but also saved and made wise investments – so that by 2002, when he died at the age of 74, he had substantial assets and planned to share a large portion of them with the community.

He did this by establishing the Ian Crabtree Trust in his will: a charitable trust that provides grants for financially disadvantaged students studying at state secondary schools in Wellington and Porirua to support their education and personal development. According to his wishes, the Trust also makes grants to charitable organisations caring for the terminally ill, especially the
Mary Potter Hospice where he himself was treated.

He also provided for other charities that addressed vulnerabilities he saw: one to a Rotary scholarship fund continues to assist tertiary students faced with financial hardship, and another to Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience helped with its environmental conservation work.

The extensive grants made by the Ian Crabtree Trust over the years have assisted many people in their early and late lives, and Ian’s foresight and generosity will continue to provide for generations to come.


Ian’s Life

Ian Maxwell Crabtree (1928 – 2002)

Ian Crabtree packed a lot of life into his 74 years. He had an enormous capacity for friendship and a lively interest in people. He would strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere and was involved in many organisations and societies. He also went to a wide range of public lectures that reflected his interests in religion, social policy, science, literature and art.

Although never marrying and having children of his own, he was a much-loved uncle of his nieces and nephews and took a great interest in young people: their hopes, struggles and achievements.

Ian was born in Morrinsville in the Waikato, and spent his early years in Hamilton with his parents and two younger sisters. When he was nine, the family moved to Auckland and he later attended Auckland Grammar School.

Committed to his career

As an engineer with a lifelong interest in safety and training in the electricity industry, Ian is credited with saving many lives through his electrical safety initiatives.

He studied at the Auckland University College and the National School of Engineering, Canterbury, graduating in 1951 with a BE (Elect.). In 1956-57 he was awarded a Confederation of British Industries Scholarship, allowing him to get work experience in the United Kingdom. He traveled by ship, earning a return voyage by working as an onboard engineer.

His valuable contribution to the power industry was recognised in 2001 when the Electricity Engineers’ Association of New Zealand awarded him their meritorious service award, following his 50 years of professional work.

A man of deep faith

Ian was a member of the Wesley Methodist Church in Wellington’s Taranaki Street from the 1950s, but his Christian involvement was not confined to the Methodist denomination: he was a familiar face in other inner city churches, too.

The Sea of Faith and the Ephesus Group were significant communities for him, in which he met with others equally committed to finding relevant, contemporary expressions of Christianity. He brought a lively and rigorous enquiry to his religious expression and served on many church boards and committees.

At Ian’s funeral, Methodist minister Rev Dr Jim Stuart said, “I shall remember him as the kind of Christian who embodied the best of being a Methodist: a warm heart, an inquisitive mind, an open and inclusive spirit, a seeker of truth and an endearing sense of humour”.

Ian gave greatly to his community

Ian had a wide range of interests and concerns in his local community: he was a member of Rotary for many years, served as treasurer for the Marriage Guidance Council in the 1960s, was a member of the Karori Historical Society in the suburb where he lived, and his voluntary work at Zealandia reflected his deep love of nature and tramping.


Work took Ian to many interesting places. He didn’t take holidays for the sake of having them but looked for educational opportunities combined with travel – including summer academies organised by English universities, or study tours such as one with Sir Lloyd Geering to the Middle East.

The arts

Ian was involved in various organisations associated with the arts. He sang in the Wesley Church Choir as well as the Orpheus Choir of Wellington, New Zealand’s premier symphonic choir.

When Ian became ill in 2001 it motivated him to press on with a personal project that he was saving for his retirement – a monograph on his uncle Maxwell Billens Rudd, a gifted and promising poet who died in his 20s. Here are two of Maxwell’s poems featured in Ian’s book, All Things Bright and Beautiful*.



Blossom of the orchard hung
In the early Summer weather,
O so soft, and O so soft,
Like a cloud and like a feather,
Thou art not so fragile – fair
As my love – a sigh might waft her
Through the lovely Summer air –
Call her, blossom, hist her – after,
She will answer with her rare
Laughter, blossom, laughter.

24 December 1923, Auckland
As published in Right Review, No. 5, January 1938, [16]



Little Miri’s lips are red
Like pohutukawa flowers,
Blossoms twin and blossoms wed,
Laughing through the laughing hours.

When pohutukawa bloom
Mantles early, ‘tis a sign
Winter seeks an early tomb,
Summer will be long and fine.

Where is Winter? Who shall strike
Bells for his bereaved hours?
Miri’s little lips are like
Red pohutukawa flowers!

Date unknown
As published in Right Review, No. 4, September 1937, [11]


All Things Bright and Beautiful: The life of Maxwell Billens Rudd
A brief account by Ian Maxwell Crabtree
© Helen Laurenson 2003

Copies available from:
6B Atherton Rd
Auckland 1023


Secondary Students

The Ian Crabtree Trust aims to assist the education and personal development of disadvantaged students at state secondary schools in Wellington as far north as Porirua through financial grants.

Wellington East Girls’ College

Grants from the Trust are used to meet expenses such as school fees, exam fees, instrument hire, music lessons, sports fees (registration or associated travel expenses), uniforms, English language tuition for refugees or any extra-curricular expenses like school camps that are in keeping with the spirit of the Trust.

Principals, counsellors, welfare officers or administrators from a student’s school can apply for a grant on a student’s behalf. A number of schools have also received lump sum grants they administer confidentially to students in need, and report to the Trustees on their distribution.

Which schools receive grants?

Students from these schools, as identified by Ian, are eligible for funding. Learn more about each school by clicking on its name to visit its website:

Aotea College
Bishop Viard College
Mana College
Newlands College
Onslow College
Porirua College
Rongotai College
St Mary’s College
St Patrick’s College
Tawa College
Wellington College
Wellington East Girls’ College
Wellington Girls’ College
Wellington High School

Discover more about grant applications.


About the Trust

The Ian Crabtree Trust makes financial grants to disadvantaged students at state secondary schools in Wellington and Porirua, and to the Mary Potter Hospice to support the terminally ill.

View from the gold-mining tunnel at Zealandia, with access and interpretation for visitors funded by Ian

At heart, Ian was a philanthropist – someone who shows their concern for humankind through charitable work and generous donations of money.

So in his will Ian directed that a large share of his assets should go into a trust to benefit charities, and on his death in 2002 the Ian Crabtree Trust was established.

This Trust is the legal means by which Ian’s assets could be invested and administered. In a trust, no one can access the funds except for the people who operate it, called the trustees. Ian handpicked two people he knew and respected as his inaugural trustees, David Hurley and John Simpson, entrusting them to invest the funds of money and distribute the surpluses according to the philanthropic wishes he set out in his will.

From the outset they set themselves the task of maintaining the real value of Ian’s trust fund, as well as making significant distributions in the form of grants to the groups he identified in his will. These groups were disadvantaged secondary school students in Wellington and Porirua, and the hospice movement.

In 2013, John Simpson retired from the Trust and the power of appointment of new Trustees passed to the Rotary Club of Wellington North, of which Ian was a member for eleven years before he died. Two members of this club have now joined David Hurley as Trustees.

Meet the Trustees

David Hurley

A relative of Ian’s by marriage, David Hurley is a current mediator, and a former lawyer and trustee of various charities including the Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand, J R McKenzie Trust, International Year of the Child Telethon Trust, and the Mary Potter Hospice. He is particularly taken with Ian’s commitment to vulnerable people both at the start and end of life, and says it has been a heartwarming privilege to see this generosity repaid from the appreciation of recipients.

David King

As a retired Chartered Accountant, David has considerable experience in the operation and administration of trusts. His 30 years in Rotary both in New Zealand and overseas created many practical opportunities to assist others. As a member and past-president of the Rotary Club of Wellington North, David knew fellow member Ian Crabtree and appreciates the benefits that his legacy creates for others.

Graeme Waters

A former diplomat, Graeme has served as High Commissioner to India and Ambassador to the Philippines, and in a number of other Asian and Pacific posts. He is currently international adviser to Auckland Zoo. He has been a member of the Rotary Club of Wellington North for over a decade, and is involved in its Reading in Schools project. Having also served on the selection panel for the Rotary Scholarship Trust, Graeme values the opportunity to further foster Ian Crabtree’s legacy.

Photograph by Trustee David Hurley



As well as to the hospice movement, the Ian Crabtree Trust makes grants to students of state secondary schools in Wellington as far north as Porirua.

Which students are eligible for grants?

Students who meet the eligibility criteria can approach their school administrators to apply for a grant on their behalf. Schools may also take the initiative of applying for grants for students they know to be disadvantaged.

The eligibility criteria are:

  • the student must be currently enrolled at a state secondary school in the Wellington or Porirua area (see the list of schools);
    • the student must be financially disadvantaged; and
    • the grant must be used for educational or personal development purposes.

Apply by email or letter

Breakfast club at Porirua College

We welcome applications for grants from principals, counsellors, welfare officers and administrators of schools. Please apply by emailor letter on school letterhead setting out the reasons for your grant request, and detailing the student’s eligibility and the amount of financial assistance required.

Grant applications should be made to:

The Trustees
Ian Crabtree Trust
c/o Hercus King & Co
Chartered Accountants
PO Box 13069

Email: To be advised

The grant process

The Trustees consider individual applications as they are received, and approved grants are paid directly to the relevant school for distribution to the students involved. We appreciate knowing about the benefits grants have made, and welcome feedback from the applicants or students.

Feel free to contact us (email address to be supplied) if you need more information.



Mary Potter Hospice

The Mary Potter Hospice took excellent care of Ian at the end of his life. In turn, his Trust continues to care for their work by granting money to this charitable organisation.

The Hospice provides specialist care to people regardless of their age, religion or ethnic origin who are living with a terminal illness. Its focus is the individual and not their illness, so highly qualified doctors, nurses, counsellors and therapists work closely with patients and their families in their own homes, as well as at an inpatient unit in Wellington, a palliative care base in Porirua and a day facility in Kapiti.

Special projects funded by the Ian Crabtree Trust

The Ian Crabtree Trust has made substantial grants to the Mary Potter Hospice for general purposes and to fund special projects.

These have included the purchase and upgrade of cars for use by staff in their work, as well as the critical replacement of the telephone system between the sites, and a significant contribution to a new roof urgently installed at the Wellington hospice.

Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington had a leaking roof. When it rained it poured – inside! In the thoroughfares and offices, buckets were needed everywhere to catch the water. Twenty years old, the Hospice’s roof was in need of an urgent makeover to stop the rain.

Working with generous contractors who kept their costs to an absolute minimum, it was agreed that the best solution was to build a new roof over the top of the existing one so the Hospice could remain open while the work was done.

Faced with a nearly half-million dollar bill for the project, it was donations like the significant grant from the Ian Crabtree Trust that allowed the work to be successfully carried out in 2009, and for the Mary Potter Hospice to continue to provide its valuable services, free of charge, for the people of Wellington.

Discover more about Mary Potter Hospice at www.marypotter.org.nz

Other Charities

There were two other charities with which Ian was deeply involved and remembered in his will, reflecting his concern for the vulnerabilities he saw in the world.


Ian was a long-serving member of the Rotary Club of Wellington North. The club established the Rotary Scholarship Trust in 1992 to “assist with the cost of tertiary education, vocational training or development of life skills, of people suffering from financial hardship”, but it was not until Ian’s million-dollar bequest that the Trust was able to start making annual grants. Feedback from recipients shows their delight in being able to study with reduced financial stress.

Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million business and community leaders who meet weekly at local clubs that are nonpolitical, nonreligious and open to all cultures, races and creeds. Rotarians develop community service projects that address critical issues such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy, and violence. They also support programmes for youth, education and international exchanges. The Rotary motto is “Service Above Self”.

Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience

Another charity to benefit from Ian’s generosity is Zealandia, the world’s first fully fenced urban eco-sanctuary. The 225-hectare valley in Karori has a two-metre high predator-proof fence that provides a conservation safe haven for over 40 threatened plant and animal species, as well as an interactive exhibition presenting 80 million years of natural history. Thousands of people visit each year.

Rare species of birds such as kiwi, kaka, hihi (stitchbird), tīeke (saddleback) and reptiles like tuatara live wild just 10 minutes from central Wellington, where native forest with rātā, rimu and tōtara is regenerating naturally.

Zealandia truly captured Ian’s imagination. He was a regular volunteer and donor, and bequeathed money to it in his will. The Trustees wanted his bequest to be used for a tangible project, and they agreed to Zealandia’s suggestion of providing access to and information about the early gold-mining attempts in the area. His generosity is recognised at the entrance of a mine site with a memorial plaque from the Karori Historical Society, another of Ian’s interests.

Discover more about Zealandia at www.visitzealandia.com

Photograph by Trustee David Hurley


“Laughter, blossom, laughter”
From the poem Blossom
By Maxwell Rudd – Ian’s uncle

Contact Us

The Trustees
Ian Crabtree Trust
c/o Hercus King & Co
Chartered Accountants
PO Box 13069

Name *

Email Address *

Message *






Uncle Ian with Anna, Sarah and Matthew Laurenson at the rock pools, Milford Beach, c.1970




The Lower Lake at Zealandia,                                        as seen from the Trust-funded access track to the Morning Star Mine







“Laughter, blossom, laughter”
From the poem Blossom
By Maxwell Rudd – Ian’s uncle