Marnie Anstis has been farming her whole life. As a young child, she often helped her father assist at lambing time. Her hands were small, strong and able to get places where her father’s large, brawny hands could not fit. “I really started at the deep end - in up to my elbows!” she now laughs.
She was 14 when her parents bought a steep, remote property in the hills behind Opotiki where she worked for 9 years after leaving school - mustering sheep and cattle, fleeco-ing, pressing wool, drenching sheep, scrub-cutting, fencing - along with the myriad of tasks that farming throws throughout the seasons.
Breaking her sheepfarmer’s vow to never step into a cowshed, she married a dairy farmer and soon learned to milk their herd singlehanded. “If I was able to milk at any time, that then freed Peter to accomplish some other urgent job.”
A young, growing family did not drastically curtail farming activities. “It was incredibly busy for a few years as, along with producing four little children, we were milking cows, had planted 5 acres of passionfruit that needed harvesting, packing and marketing every day, built a house, acquired a hectare of tamarillos – and all the while, we were developing several kiwifruit blocks out of our best milking paddocks! It was a massive learning curve,” says Marnie.
That was the start of an expanding horticultural enterprise of kiwifruit that, 40 years later, now covers about 40 hectares.
Today Peter and Marnie have stepped back from the day-to-day management. In retirement, Peter became involved with setting up a Community Foundation in their locality, and because of his enthusiasm, Marnie soon became aware of this impressive concept - especially when coupled with the value of non-taxable donations.
“Anyone can make a donation (or leave a gift in their will) for a cause that’s dear to their heart - even to smaller organisations that truly add value and richness to the fabric of one’s local community. The donation is invested, and it is the interest it accrues that is paid out each year – forever,” Marnie explains.
“Every farmer experiences the difficulties of being ‘asset rich, cash poor’, and we were no different. All my life I had to be frugal with every cash purchase. But as our operation increased in size, slowly some discretionary income started to filter my way.”
“I made the decision in 2019 to set up an endowment fund with the Eastern Bay Community Foundation. A Community Foundation has a safe, secure, and long-lasting structure to be able to achieve this.”
Marnie says, “To know that I can make the community we live in a better place, is personally satisfying. My specific criteria are a) to equip a child or adult with essential reading and comprehension skills, and b) to restore and enhance our natural environment. Those two objectives are where I want to make a difference.”
The Foundation has taken on board Marnie’s vision for her fund. As well, she has allowed the trustees to use their discretion to make grants to other urgent needs within the community from time to time.
Marnie adds, “Many years ago, we set up our operation so as to hold minimal assets personally, so the option of leaving a gift in my will was not quite so easy for me to implement. The ‘Living-Giving’ way is not only more tax efficient, but also creates a lot more personal satisfaction, and will give me an on-going interest into my twilight years.”
All going well, she intends to add to her Endowment Fund on a regular basis.
“Fingers crossed, I hope to live another 20 or 25 years, and only leaving something after my death is too long to wait to give back to the community in which I live; the community which has supported us. The need is always now.”