Millionaire businessman Owen Glenn has given $80 million to prevent child abuse in New Zealand, with the first $8m going to a pilot scheme to educate young men in Otara.
Glenn announced today at the Otara Music and Arts Centre that the Glenn Family Foundation would put the money towards health, education and enterprise programmes stem the tide of child abuse.
He said the country's domestic violence and child abuse rate was "a great shame" on the people of New Zealand.
Education was a major part of his strategy and vision for a better New Zealand and that positive change could only be achieved through a collaborative approach and effort from Government, community leaders, police and citizens.
Plans for Otara include a 1.6km cycleway and running track at Ngati Otara Park. Glenn has also promised 300 bicycles will be available for the benefit of the entire community
A family centre will be developed to protect women and children who may be susceptible to violence and abuse, and an education scheme, called Coaching Boys in to Men, will target young men to provide them with positive role models to ensure they become good members of the community.
Glenn, who lived in Otara for two years as child in the 1960s, said giving the community a "hand-up" was the start of this process, and if it is successful similar schemes should be implemented throughout New Zealand.
"Education allows people to succeed, allows people to dream and allows people to achieve whatever their dreams are and that's fundamentally what it's all about," he said.
The remainder of the money will be provided to community schemes over the coming years.
Prime Minister John Key said Owen Glenn should serve as an example to other wealthy New Zealanders.
Glenn also gave $7.5m to the Auckland University business school and funded part of the AUT Millennium Institute.
"Owen's been extremely generous to New Zealand over recent years," Key said.
"I think it's a great example for other very well-off New Zealanders to follow."
Glenn had a passionate interest in at-risk children, particularly in South Auckland and there was always a place for individuals to work alongside the Government, Key said.
However, the Government would need to take advice before deciding whether a Royal Commission, which Glenn has offered to fund, was necessary.
"The Government spends an enormous amount of money on the welfare of youngsters and at-risk New Zealanders. It's a very complex issue... I think the Government is doing a lot but it's great that other people are prepared to help and do a little more."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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