IPENZ Engineering Heritage Jobhunt Foundation

Replacing the Benevolent Society

The IPENZ Benevolent Society was originally set up to help IPENZ Members and their dependants who struck hard times – or found themselves in 'distressed circumstances', as the legal phrase put it. It served a worthwhile purpose for a long time, but as the social welfare system developed it took care of most of the needs the Society had previously met. It also became increasingly difficult to match grants to people’s actual needs, as the narrow legal definition of 'distressed circumstances' severely restricted the grounds on which grants could be made, and people’s needs altered with changing times.

IPENZ therefore looked for a practical way round this mismatch. It was decided that the Society should be dissolved, and its assets transferred to a new charitable trust. The trust – the IPENZ Foundation – would have broader objectives than the Society, objectives that took contemporary realities into consideration. Because of legal constraints, this was more difficult than it sounds, and the process took longer than expected.

The Dissolution process

Legally, the Society could not be dissolved without the explicit written consent of at least 75 per cent of its members. Since all IPENZ Members automatically belonged to the Society, this was a big undertaking – sending out forms to Members, processing them, and following up where they were not returned. It all took longer than expected – not because of opposition to the move so much as logistics and inertia. A very few Members expressed fears that the Benevolent Society role might be abandoned, but the Foundation Trustees are committed to ensuring this role is continued.


Vigorous follow-up was needed to persuade enough Members to fill in and return the forms provided. This had to be done exactly according to directions because the consultation was legally binding. National Office staff discovered many inventive ways the form could be wrongly completed – and then there were replies that were impossible to read.

Consent from the necessary number of Members was finally obtained in 2004 after a huge effort by National Office staff.

Access to Benevolent Assistance

The support of Members and their families is an essential part of the function of the IPENZ Foundation. There are two objectives under which this support can fall:

  • To assist, in New Zealand, Members suffering hardship due to physical or mental sickness, disability or incapacity to participate in education or rehabilitation programmes that enable them to resume a career
  • To promote the relief of poverty, in New Zealand, among Members or their dependents arising from age, physical or mental sickness, disability or incapacity or death of the Member concerned.

The trustees discharge this function by making grants in response to approaches for assistance from Members or their families. Inquiries or requests should be addressed to the Foundation’s Executive Officer, Linden Williams (IPENZ Branch Facilitator). All inquiries or requests for assistance will be treated in complete confidence.

Contact details are:
Executive Officer
IPENZ Foundation
PO Box 12 241
Wellington 6144
Tel: (04) 474 8989