Timeline of the Foundation

1991: Born in Taranaki

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation is established by the New Plymouth West Rotary Club, off the back of a speech by Dame Malvina to the club about her wish to support young performing artists. Robin Brockie is the Foundation’s first Chair and goes on to lead the Taranaki Committee, which he still leads today.

1992: Nationwide foundations

The original Trustees – including Sir Ron Trotter, Hon Dr Michael Bassett, Sir Ross Jansen, Christopher Doig, Angela Gorton, Robin Brockie and Maurice Cleland – officially launch the Foundation as a national organisation at a glittering event at Premier House in Wellington. The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Jim Bolger, and his wife Joan host the event. Over $100,000 is raised, with Dame Malvina promising $200,000 of her time and energy to establishing the Foundation.

1997: First committee

The DMMF Christchurch Committee is established.

1998: Sponsorship and fundraising

Ernst & Young is the Foundation’s first major sponsor and provides administrative support, with Managing Partner Peter Taylor becoming the Foundation’s Chair. A gala fundraising concert is held in the St James Theatre in Wellington, hosted by the Governor General Sir Michael Hardie Boys and featuring Dame Malvina, the six finalists in the recent Mobil Song Quest, including first, second and third place-winners Jonathan Lemalu, Jared Holt and Ana James, and a chamber New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. More than $50,000 is raised.

2000: Emerging and Young Artists

The Foundation partners with NBR New Zealand Opera to support the Emerging Artists and later the Young Artist programmes.

2000: Wellington

The DMMF Wellington Committee is established.

2001: New Chair

David Jackson is appointed as Chair of the Board of Trustees and sets the Foundation on a path to grow its funds and become a sustainable organisation.

2002: Ryman relationship

In 2002, the Foundation’s longstanding partnership with Ryman Healthcare is born with the Christchurch committee hosting a soiree at the Ryman Healthcare Ngaio Marsh Retirement Village. A young singer from Dunedin – Anna Leese – is invited to perform and chooses to present the programme that will go on to win her The Mobil Song Quest.

2002: First Arts Excellence Awards

DMMF Arts Excellence Awards are launched by the Christchurch committee, led by Anna Midgley. The committee runs golf tournaments to raise money for the awards (with Dame Malvina even teeing off). The first recipients are Matthew Allison (trombone), Michael Stewart (organ and conducting) and Carolyn Wu (piano).

2003: All under control

A professional administrator from the arts world, Patricia Hurley, is appointed, helping to widen contacts with sponsors and artists.

2004: Auckland

The DMMF Auckland Committee is established.

2005: Taranaki and the TSB Community Trust

The DMMF Taranaki Committee is established.

The TSB Community Trust, recognising the Foundation’s reputation s a trusted charity with expertise in the arts sector, grants the DMMF Taranaki Committee management of its funding for the arts sector in the Taranaki region. This enables the Committee to award over $100,000 to young performing artists in the region each year.

2008: New Zealand Aria sponsorship

The Foundation partners with the Lockwood Aria (later the New Zealand Aria) to provide the first prize in this prestigious singing competition.

2008: Mina Foley Scholarship

In memory of one of New Zealand’s most promising vocal talents of yesteryear, the Mina Foley Scholarship is established to enable talented young singers to return to New Zealand to perform in a professional opera season. Recipients include Rachelle Pike, Madeleine Pierard and Wade Kernot.

2009: Peter Lees-Jeffries Memorial Scholarship

In honour of the Christchurch theatrical designer and teacher, the Peter Lees-Jeffries Memorial Scholarship is established for young New Zealand designers and directors to visit opera theatres and workshops overseas.

2009: Dunedin

The DMMF Otago Committee is established and launched by The Mayor of Dunedin, Peter Chin.

2010: Sir Howard Morrison Vocal Scholarship

The Sir Howard Morrison Vocal Scholarship is established in collaboration with Sir Owen Glenn and The Glenn Family Trust, in recognition of the late Sir Howard Morrison’s unique talent. The scholarship includes 30 hours of personal vocal tuition from Dame Malvina.

2010: Italian for New Zealand Opera Singers

The Foundation grants its first scholarships to enable young singers to take part in Patricia Hurley’s Italian for NZ Opera Singers Masterclasses in Italy.

2010: Cecily Maccoll High Achiever Award

The Dame Malvina Major Cecily Maccoll High Achiever is established from a legacy left by the original secretary and treasurer of the Christchurch Committee. The scholarship is awarded annually as part of the Committee’s Arts Excellence Awards.

2011: Pacific Opera

The first Pacific Opera Programme is held in in Christchurch with the Dame Malvina Major Foundation and Annette Campbell-White and the Kia Ora Foundation co-sponsoring an intensive programme for 16 voice students and three repetiteurs. This leads to openings in San Francisco for several young artists including Amina Edris, Darren Pene Pati and Amitai Pati.

2011: Rebuild

The Christchurch Committee’s “Catch the Rising Stars” concert raises $10,000 for the Isaac Theatre Royal Trust towards restoration of the historic theatre following the Canterbury earthquakes.

2011: Waikato

The DMMF Waikato Committee is established. It offers its first Arts Excellence Awards the following year.

2012: 21 years old!

The Foundation brings together an extraordinary line up of talented young artists it has supported for a concert at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.

2015: New look

With the help of leading creative agency, Clemengers BBDO, the Foundation undergoes a major rebrand and launches a new website www.dmmfoundation.org.nz.

2016: Quarter century

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary.

2017: Opera Studies Programme

The Foundation, in association with New Zealand Opera, offers specialist training for young New Zealand singers on the verge of international vocal studies. Participants received two weeks of intensive coaching from international tutors with a particular focus on recitative training – a style of delivery used in operas in which a singer adopts the rhythms of ordinary speech.

2018: Ryman Healthcare backs Mina Foley Award

Long-term supporter Ryman Healthcare cements its relationship with the Foundation, sponsoring the Ryman Healthcare DMMF Mina Foley Scholarship to enable talented young singers to return to New Zealand to perform in a professional season with New Zealand Opera.

2020: 20 year partnership

The Foundation and New Zealand Opera celebrate their 20 year partnership with supporters in ‘A Tribute in Song to Dame Malvina Major’ at the Freemasons New Zealand Opera Studio in Auckland. The event features performances from artists who had benefitted from the artist development programme the two organisations have fostered over many years.

2020: Inaugural Dame Malvina Major Award

A $50,000 annual opera award honouring Dame Malvina Major is established, with tenor Amitai Pati the inaugural recipient. The award is funded by Joan Egan to acknowledge Dame Malvina’s legacy and celebrate the Dame Malvina Major Foundation’s 30th anniversary.

2021: 30 years

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation marks its 30th anniversary.


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