Super idea: WHS Foundation's first 'spend my super' donor, John Harman, with his partner and endowment fund head Karen Spires


A Queenstown couple’s encouraging local superannuitants who don’t need their super to donate it to Wakatipu High School Foundation’s endowment fund.

Retired surgeon and adopted Queenstowner John Harman’s the first donor under its new ‘spend my super’ initiative.

He’s been encouraged by his partner Karen Spires, who heads the endowment fund for the foundation, which wants it topped up to the tune of $20 million.

Harman, 68, says if, as he expects, he lives for another 25 years, he’d be giving $1m for the rest of his lifetime.

‘‘If you said to me, ‘John, go and write a cheque for $1m and give it to the school’, I would go, ‘that’s a bit chunky’, but this is painless.’’

The father of a Year 12 Wakatipu High student, Harman says he’s attracted to ‘spend my super’ for two reasons.

‘‘Firstly, I’ve been independent all my life, and I have worked hard so I haven’t had to rely on the state, and I feel uncomfortable relying on the state now.

‘‘Secondly, I think the very best way I can make a difference is to give children that go to school the opportunity to be as successful as they possibly can, and it sets them up on their journey through life.’’

He notes it was the grandparents in the village who used to look after their grandchildren.

To help it deliver an all-round, excel lent education, WHS Foundation funds a lot of the ‘extras’ which, as a Decile 10 school, Wakatipu High doesn’t get from the government.

That includes an ‘Awhi’ fund which assists students from hard-up families with the likes of camp fees.

As a result, Spires says, ‘‘every single kid that walks in that door has the same chances’’.

‘‘It’s a pleasure also to be able to give our teachers and principal that run Wakatipu a helping hand, because they’re overloaded.’’

School board of trustees member Adrian Januszkiewicz says the foundation’s aim of raising $20m for its endowment fund ‘‘is critical if we wish to develop an ‘in perpetuity’ funding model for the school’’.

‘‘We are excited about the potential for the ‘spend my super’ initiative, and are grateful to John for his generosity and stepping up as our first super donor.’’