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18 Jun 2021 23:57
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  •   Home > News > Business > Features

    Gifts that Give on Several Levels

    Perhaps the most important assignment in a university course I teach on financial literacy has little to do with finance. Worried that the course might send the message “the more money you have the better”, I ask the students to think about how money and happiness are related.

    In an exercise that readers might like to try, each student lists at least ten people they know well, and then rates each one for wealth, with 1 being relatively poor and 5 being rich. There should be at least one 1 and one 5. They then similarly rate each person for happiness.

    I ask them to work out the average happiness score for each wealth level, and bring that information to discussion groups, where we calculate the group averages. The results so far: there has been no correlation between wealth and happiness.

    The students then think about the happiest people on their lists, and comment about what many of them seem to have in common. Frequently mentioned are good health, a positive attitude, supportive family and friends and so on.

    Often the discussion turns to the happiness people feel when they give to others, whether financially, through volunteer work or in less organized ways. And research shows that, indeed, this is a common source of wellbeing.

    All of which leads me to Christmas presents. Every year, many of us give our relatives and friends heaps of stuff they don’t want. But there’s an alternative, through which you can give your loved ones the pleasure of giving to others.

    You choose from a charity’s catalogue the items to be given – in the names of your relatives and friends – to people in need. You might, for instance, pay $12 for your child to give a chicken to a family in a poor country. The charity will send you notification of this to give the child.

    Charities that offer this include:

    • ChildFund New Zealand: 0800 223 111 or

    • Christian World Service: 0800 747 372 or

    • Fred Hollows Foundation: 0800 227 229 or

    • Leprosy Mission: 0800 862 873 or

    • Oxfam: 0800 600 700 or

    • Save the Children: 0800 167 168 or

    • TEAR Fund: 0800 800 777 or

    • Unicef: 0800 243 575 or

    • World Vision: 0800 245 000 or


    The government’s Capital Market Development Taskforce has been working for months on many issues, including how the whole investment process could be improved for the ordinary investor – from simple, clear disclosure about every investment through to easier redress for victims of ripoffs.

    On Wednesday December 16 the taskforce will reveal its recommendations to the government at a breakfast in downtown Wellington, attended by Commerce Minister Simon Power. This will be followed by a lunch the same day in Auckland.

    The taskforce, of which I’m a member, would like to invite ten members of the public to attend each function, as representatives of all the New Zealand investors who the taskforce hopes will benefit from its recommendations.

    To be in the random draw to be there, send your name and address to, putting "Wellington breakfast" or "Auckland lunch"
    in the subject line, or mail it to "Wellington Breakfast" or "Auckland lunch", Capital Market Development Taskforce, PO Box 1473, Wellington, to be received by December 8. Winners will be notified directly, and listed in this column in two weeks.

    © 2021 Mary Holm, NZCity

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