$10 million surprise bequest for Canterbury Museum

Canterbury Museum has received the largest gift in its 130-year history, a $10 million posthumous donation from Arthur Henry Harrison, a retired company secretary from Blenheim. The money will be used to form the Adson charitable trust, for the purposes of purchasing historical items for public display at the Museum.

“We are extremely grateful to Mr Harrison for this extraordinary gift to the museum,” said Museum Director Anthony Wright. “It’s wonderful that through the charitable trust, his legacy in the community will endure in perpetuity.”

Tragically, Mr Harrison passed away in November last year following a fire in his Blenheim home. He left instructions in his Will for Public Trust to form the “Adson Trust”. The trust name is derived from his late wife’s maiden name (Adams) and his own.

Canterbury Museum only recently became aware that a bequest had been made, and staff were staggered by the size of the inheritance Mr Harrison had left.

“Given the value of the estate, we had to make sure that the Will we held was indeed his last Will,” said Mark Cassidy, Senior Relationship Manager at Public Trust. “As soon as probate was granted by the High Court, we were able to deliver the good news.” Mr Cassidy said the trust will be managed by Public Trust, to help ensure the Museum enjoys its benefits for many years to come.

Arthur Henry Harrison was born in Sydney in 1917 and emigrated to New Zealand in 1937. He was in the Royal Australian Airforce when he met and married June Adams and helped to manage property belonging to her family. The pair had no children, but had family in Australia.

Despite his personal wealth, people who knew Mr Harrison said he was very unassuming about his money and an intensely private man. He lived in a modest house in an industrial part of Blenheim.

Public Trust manages over 400 charitable trusts across New Zealand, providing aid to sectors as diverse as science, medicine, the arts and agriculture. Through prudent and professional management, a charitable trust can create a legacy to help people and organisations for generations to come.

For more information visit Canterbury Museum’s website

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