NZ's wealthiest man jump-starts South Auckland affordable dental care initiative with huge donation

New Zealand's wealthiest man has parted ways with $10 million of his fortune - donating it to a new initiative in South Auckland that will provide low-cost dental care to the community.

University of Otago announced the donation, from alumnus Graeme Hart and his wife Robyn, today. The biggest ever single donation to the 150-year-old institution, it will go towards the university's yet-to-be-built $28.2 million dental teaching facility.

"We are very pleased that the youth and young children of this region will benefit from this facility," Mr Hart said in the university-issued statement, adding that he is "delighted" the teaching programme will also "meet the needs of lower socio-economic groups".

Construction is expected to begin in the near future on the two-storey, 32-chair facility, which was announced by the university in August. It will be located at the Counties Manukau District Health Board's Super Clinic site.

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The news was announced by Health Minister David Clark in Manukau today. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Hart, known for his philanthropy as well as his business acumen, is worth nearly $NZ13 billion and is the 148th most wealthy person in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

"New Zealand's perennial richest person, Graeme Hart amassed a packaging empire using leveraged buyouts," the magazine says.

A former school dropout, he went on to earn an MBA degree from Otago University in 1987.

Vice Chancellor Harlene Hayne was among the school officials heaping praise on the billionaire today for the opportunity the donation will provide.

"The Hart family's donation ... will assist us in making a substantial positive difference to the healthcare and wider wellbeing of residents of New Zealand's largest city," she said.

Graeme Hart
Graeme Hart Source: 1 NEWS