2010 Recipients - Gus and Irene Fisher

Gus Fisher and his wife Irene are well known for the contribution they have made toward the establishment of the Gus Fisher Gallery, which encourages debate on contemporary visual arts and culture and fosters creative and academic research in visual arts. The Gallery was set up by the University of Auckland in the Kenneth Myers Centre. Gus and Irene also provided significant support for the refurbishment of the centre, which houses the Gallery, performance, rehearsal and teaching facilities.

Gus and Irene's generosity for the arts was evident at the 2010 Award for Patronage. To find out how Fisher's celebrated their award, watch this video from the Award ceremony.

Today it is less well known that Gus Fisher was a pioneer of the New Zealand's fashion industry. He headed the house of El Jay for close to 50 years and in that time contributed to a broadening of the New Zealand fashion perspective by looking to the couture of Paris, interpreting it and making his version of European style available to women in New Zealand. His annual travel to Paris, to see first-hand the new designs and fabrics, led to a keen awareness of the latest trends and also to relationships with Paris couturiers. El Jay became the New Zealand licensee for Christian Dior. A Tribute exhibition, curated by Doris de Pont, was shown at the Gus Fisher Gallery shortly after the Award for Patronage announcement in June 2010.  Doris de Pont has gone on to establish the Fashion Museum .

'Near enough is not good enough, you must always strive for excellence.'  It is this philosophy of always seeking to achieve the best quality possible that has informed the philanthropy of the Fishers. They choose their causes with care and donate generously so that their gift offers the potential to achieve excellent outcomes.

In 2005, Gus Fisher received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Auckland for his contribution to the development of academic programmes, the Fisher Parkinson's Fellowship, research and infrastructure at the university, and his key role in establishing the Kenneth Myers Centre. Gus Fisher was also one of the founding donors to the Hood Fund, which enables leading academics from New Zealand and abroad to share their research knowledge.

The Fishers have also made significant donations to and number of organisations, including the Auckland War Memorial Museum and community drug education and rehabilitation programmes.

Gus Fisher passed away on Tuesday, 20 July 2010.

View Gus speaking on the evening of the Award announcement on TV3 Nightline (28 April 2010).

Looking Terrific - The Story of El Jay - the exhibition - features on TV3 News (5 June 2010).