Marion Davis was a child opera star, beginning her career in a juvenile opera company at the age of 14 in Wellington. In 1899, she married Ernest Hyam Davis, a brewer from Auckland. As a wife and mother, she actively participated in a large number of civic and charitable organizations, and became Lady Davis in 1937 when her husband, a former mayor of Auckland, was knighted, “Sir Ernest.”
Together, they were generous donors to Auckland Hospital and to medical education. Lady Marion passed away in 1955, and five years later, Sir Ernest Davis gifted Auckland the Marion Davis Memorial Library.
The Davis family philanthropic activity was not limited to New Zealand, however. The Lady Marion Davis Memorial Hospitals Foundation, which is managed by Perpetual Guardian, also provides support for Israeli hospitals. While the Israeli government funds healthcare in a similar way to New Zealand, philanthropy plays a major role in financing capital projects and equipment.
To date, the Lady Marion Davis Memorial Hospitals Foundation (set up by Desmond in fond memory of his late mother) has granted $4.5m in New Zealand and Israel. Perpetual Guardian Senior Client Manager, Tanaz Siganporia, recently visited Israel to see some of the projects The Lady Marion Davis Memorial Hospitals Foundation has supported.
In 2012, the Information Desk and Area on the ground floor of the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower of Healing at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, was proudly dedicated to the memory of the late Lady Marion Davis.
Ms Siganporia toured both the Hadassah Ein Karem (closer to the centre of Jerusalem town) and Hadassah Mount Scopus (on the outskirts of Jerusalem) campuses. She recalls that
Hadassah is a story of one woman Henrietta Szold who mobilised a group of women to attend to the sick and first sent two nurses into Turkish occupied Jerusalem to heal the suffering of mothers and babies. From there has emerged an institution Hadassah Medical Organisation (HMO) to treat all patients with compassion and care covering a catchment area of over one million people.Tanaz Siganporia
Henrietta Szold was also part of the inspiration for Simone Nathan establishing Plunket in British Mandate Palestine before it was incorporated into Hadassah. There is also a strong Kiwi link to another hospital that The Lady Marion Davis Memorial Hospitals Foundation supports – Director of International Operations for Shaare Zedek Medical Centre is Uri Schwarz, who was assistant Rabbi at the Auckland Hebrew Congregation many years ago.
Ms Siganporia toured the two Shaare Zedek campuses, with the downtown Jerusalem hospital being the fastest growing in Israel with a 50% increase in annual admissions over the past decade; and has the largest maternity ward and neonatal intensive care unit. It is also the only hospital in Jerusalem to receive international accreditation by the Joint Commission International (JCI).
The Shaare Zedek Hospital has also embraced technology such that many operations are robot-assisted and the pharmacy is also automated.
The Lady Marion Davis Memorial Hospitals Foundation has assisted the Shaare Zedek Hospital with technology also, donating ultrasound and x-ray equipment for the Radiology and Imaging Institute as well as funding the negative pressure and isolation suite in the emergency department.
The latest investment of The Lady Marion Davis Memorial Hospitals Foundation in Israel is a US$500,000 grant toward an outpatient day centre at the Israeli Alzheimer’s Medical Centre, which is Israel’s only treatment centre for Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases. It currently houses 140 inpatients as well as treating hundreds of outpatients. They also train professionals and are engaged in research.
The Israeli Alzheimer’s Medical Centre was established in 2001 by the CEO Nitai Eliash’s father when his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers and his father realised there was no hospital where patients suffering from this disease could be housed safely.
Ms Siganporia attended a special ceremony at the Centre to unveil a plaque commissioned in honour of Lady Marion for the funds granted towards the multi-purpose centre. The 1,200m2 facility includes a synagogue, gardening balcony, physiotherapy clinic, multisensory room, music therapy room, beauty room, and a general activity space.
A ceremony was held on-site and attended by the Israeli Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Services, Haim Katz, as well as Honorary Consul of NZ in Israel, Mr Gad Propper, and approximately 120 other VIPs. Some of those attending are pictured in the header image to this article.
Ms Siganporia summarises her visit to Israel as
… an amazing experience of the culture, the various religions, the people, the food, and above all mankind’s quest to constantly strive for improvement, being compassionate, and caring for the needy irrespective of race, religion, sexual orientation or nationality.
Every hospital had the same message – the minute any person walks into its doors the only thing that matters is saving lives by providing the best medical attention they can be given.
The trust can take pride that every dollar funded has been well spent with impact to people in Israel being immeasurable. Not very large by any means, a trust set up in New Zealand to benefit the people of Israel is by no ways insignificant. The hospitals and their officials have shown gratitude by humbly acknowledging the grants given by the Trust and the Davis family – who I believe they know more about now that they have had a chance to read the book Perpetual Guardian commissioned.
For me personally, this has been a humbling experience and glad to have the opportunity to manage these trusts which do so much good for mankind by serving the needy.Tanaz Siganporia
The book Ms Siganporia refers to is a biography of Sir Ernest written by Susan Buckland that was released in June. Sir Ernest and Lady Marion were remarkable people and continue to contribute to New Zealand and Israeli society through their philanthropy, via Perpetual Guardian.