Philanthropist Leaves $2 Million for the Bay

OHOPE philanthropist Vic Davis has left a $2 million legacy to the people of the Eastern Bay of

Two-and-a-half years after the death of the well known engineer, sailor, Rotarian and community leader, the Rotary Club of Whakatane West has announced the establishment of a charitable trust in his memory.

The Vic Davis Memorial Trust, which will operate under the terms of a trust deed detailed in Mr
Davis’ will, is expected to distribute more than $100,000 a year in grants and scholarships with a focus on mental health.

Mr Davis passed away in 2004 and left the bulk of his estate in a trust with very specific charitable aims. Trust chairman Mike Shepherd said the initial fund was more than $2 million. Seventy per cent of the income generated from this would be available for distribution with the rest being reinvested to grow the fund.

The trust’s primary objective would be to assist with promotion, investigation and research into mental health - including its nature, origin, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and cure.
It would also fund the costs and expenses of teenagers accepted for the Rotary Student
Exchange Programme.

If there were no suitable applications in either of these areas, the unused income from the trust
could be used for craftspeople training at the Waterwheel Museum.
According to those that knew him, Mr Davis’ life was one of success and he was someone able to cheerfully motivate and encourage others to great heights.
He had more than his fair share of tragedy - his son died in infancy, and his daughter in tragic
circumstances in her late teens - to which he responded by helping others facing similar

Mr Davis was born in 1921 and spent his early years in Blockhouse Bay. He began work as a
cadet with the Waitemata Power Board and then joined the New Zealand Army early in the war.
He was transferred to the navy where he served on the destroyer HMS Leander in the torpedo
and depth-charge team. His ship was torpedoed in 1943 and limped back to Tulagi in the
Solomons for repairs.
He returned to the Waitemata Power Board after the war then moved to Whakatane Board Mills as a chief electrical engineer, where he played a leading role in the expansion and updating of the mill, and training of apprentices and technicians for 30 years.
He was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Whakatane West and its second president.
Mr Davis was a well known sailor and fisherman and he designed and built a large double-ender boat which he would launch off the beach at West End Ohope in all but the wildest conditions and motor to White Island and back.

His leadership qualities were evident from three major initiatives. He mobilised the team of
trampers and skiers who formed the Whakapapa Mountain Club. He also organised a team of
local volunteers who went to outlying villages in the Fiji islands to help with the provision of power and water supplies and provide advice on sawmilling and house building.
He was also DoC’s official gannet bander on White Island and for decades he organised parties
of volunteers to travel there to carry out this task.

After his death Mr Davis’ West End home was sold at auction for $1.485 million, which was a
record for a Whakatane coastal home at the time.
The Vic Davis Memorial Trust is a completely separate entity from the Rotary Club of Whakatane West although the majority of trustees come from the club. They are chairman Mike Shepherd, vice chair Tony Bonne, secretary Rob Rowson, and trustees Karen Smith, Mark Bruce, Brian Jackson and Bruce Davis - Vic’s brother.

Applications for grants will be called for in due course.
Mr Shepherd said there were no restrictions on where applicants could come from but initially the trust would prefer applications to come from the Eastern Bay of Plenty.