The idea of Heritage, an organisation to provide the sons of deceased servicemen with the advice and guidance that would have been available to them had their fathers lived, was inspired by the operation of Australia's “Legacy Clubs. The idea was brought forward at a meeting of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce on 1 May 1941 and, as a result, the Heritage movement was incorporated on 10 August 1942 with a membership of 325. Membership of Heritage is not restricted to returned servicemen, but since its beginning it has worked in close cooperation with the Returned Services' Association. The principal work devolves upon the sponsors, who are carefully chosen, because the success of the scheme depends on the happy relationship between the sponsor and the child, for soon after its inception Heritage was extended to care both for boys and for girls. The sponsor, who must be a man, sees the child regularly and reports at once if there is anything that Heritage can do to further the child's interests.
By the time the first annual conference was held on 19 July 1944 there were 10 branches of Heritage, with over 2,000 members. Under the patronage of Lord Freyberg, Heritage funds were increased by over £20,000 through his arranging for money to be diverted from various trusts and funds. Such was his interest that while he was Governor-General he insisted on each annual conference being held at Government House in his presence, and he made many helpful suggestions then and at other times.
Heritage has never made a public appeal for funds, but voluntary donations have allowed the work to expand until today over £23,000 is being spent annually. In the past 20 years upwards of 5,000 children have been assisted.
by John Sidney Gully, M.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Assistant Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.
- The Story of Heritage, Mazengarb, O. C. (1962).