Organic Ending to Orientation Aotearoa Trust

Donor stories

What do you do when you’re winding down a charitable trust, but still have money to disburse? Read about how The Gift Trust supported Orientation Aotearoa disperse their remaining funds. 

In mid-2016, the Orientation Aotearoa (OA) Charitable Trust made the difficult decision to wind down their organisation. This trust had originally been formed to run an experiential education programme in 2015 to foster authentic leadership capabilities of New Zealanders aged 18-25.

With reserve funds left in their bank account, and various people involved in the organisation keen to explore different and more sustainable organisational models, the trustees faced some hard choices as to where to place their remaining funds.

To simplify this process, the trustees made the decision to transfer the remaining assets to The Gift Trust to manage and distribute the funds, with a focus on making grants to organisations that are carrying forward the legacy of Orientation Aotearoa. 

Transferring these funds to The Gift Trust was such an organic ending to Orientation Aotearoa. It prevented us derailing over money questions, as to what should happen with this remaining financial resource. It was most helpful.
— Doris, Trustee of Orientation Aotearoa

The Gift Trust ran two open grant rounds in November 2016 and again recently in May 2017.  All scholarship and grant decisions were made by the staff and trustees of The Gift Trust (excluding one trustee with a conflict of interest and connection to this organisation).

Each application was assessed according to the merit of the grant application and alignment with agreed upon criteria with the OA trustees on the transfer of their funds. These criteria included a focus on projects that: help build resilient healthy communities, support rites of passage and youth development, provide experiential education and nurtures relationships and community development.

The November grant round of $8,000 was distributed to two organisations:


Living Economies Trust

A $4,000 grant was provided to the Living Economies Trust to support this organisation, in collaboration with Project Lyttelton and others, in running a three-day expo in Lyttelton from 29 March to 1 April 2017.

The expo aimed to highlight alternative economic systems to help build resilient healthy communities, by keeping money and resources within a community – including savings pools, timebanks, complementary currencies, and community land trusts.

Thank you for this $4,000 grant. It was really useful in helping produce what we believe was an extraordinary event attended by over 100 people from all over the country. This grant contributed to the flight costs for the three international speakers that we brought to New Zealand. Largely the event was done on a voluntary basis, but we were also able to gave nominal amounts to those who did the lion’s share of work in producing the event.
— Margaret Jefferies, Chair of Project Lyttelton

Living Economies Expo workshop session, April 2017

Outcomes from this expo include various attendees organising further events, talks and projects. The Living Economies Trust notes an increased growth in the formation of TimeBanks around the country, increased media attention on the issues, the development of Mutual Aid Networks throughout the country and increased interest in savings pools and speaker requests.

Living Economies Expo, speaker session


Toru Education Trust

This new organisation has recently been formed with a vision for healthy, grounded individuals contributing to resilient communities and a mission to provide experiential education opportunities that nurture people and the planet. Two of the three Toru Education Trustees were also Orientation Aotearoa founders and aim to carry the legacy of Orientation Aotearoa, but in a more sustainable, accessible and shorter format that reaches all ages.

We imagine Toru Education to be a non residential “University Of Life”; a network connecting those embarking on practical individual learning journeys, creating an intergenerational ‘Community of Learning and Practice’ with a focus on permaculture and other specialist skill courses.
— Toru Education Trust

 Since November, this organisation has run two workshops – a Natural Building workshop in Otaki and a Grow your own Food workshop, in Paekakariki.

Toru Education, Grow your own food workshop.

The $4,000 grant made to Toru Education Trust was made to support the costs for students where finance may be a barrier to attending. These funds will also provide seed funding for the development of Toru Education Trust as an organisation and for the development of marketing materials including a logo, website and newsletter.

Natural Building Workshop, Otaki

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