Socially minded

Marie Gillies is the chair of the Masonic Villages Trust, which is a major sponsor of the 2021 Capital Photographer of the Year competition.

We talked to Marie about her very busy schedule (even though she’s technically retired), the most underrated place in Wellington, and why sponsoring the Capital Photographer of the Year’s Society” category is the perfect fit for Masonic Villages Trust.

What’s a normal day for you?
My “day job” is chair of The Masonic Villages Trust. The Trust oversees the operations of the Masonic Villages Retirement Villages and Care Facilities. We operate 17 retirement villages ranging from Northland to Wellington and including Taranaki, and five care facilities in the lower North Island.  I am the only woman on the Board at this point in time and the first female chair. When I’m not working in that role, I volunteer as the secretary of Friends of the Old St Paul’s and I’m very active in Inner Wheel, which started life as a female offshoot of Rotary.  Although I’m officially retired, I’m extremely busy with a range of business and social activities that start each day around 7am when I walk my dog, Ruby, an eight year old spoodle.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The opportunity! The Masonic Villages Trust has an enormous opportunity for growth which, in turn, will mean more retirement housing for our aging population. We don’t operate our villages and care facilities on purely commercial grounds like our competitors do – we take a more charitable view of the world, given our Masonic heritage, and this means we can provide the kind of accommodation that benefits a range of older and retired Kiwis, not just those who can afford a more commercially-focussed retirement facility. The other opportunity I see is the chance for the work of the Trust to wave the flag for, and actively showcase, Freemasonry and the good works that organisation does, both to the wider community and to Free Masons themselves. We are the second largest charitable organisation in New Zealand in the aged care sector and that’s something to be very proud of.

What’s your favourite place in the wider Wellington region?
Upper Hutt. It’s a very beautiful part of the Wellington region, but it’s under-appreciated.  I’ve never regretted moving here.

What’s your favourite book?
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It tells a wonderful story about the history behind England’s ancient churches and cathedrals and the people who built them.  And that’s where Freemasonry, with which the Masonic Villages Trust is closely associated, was initiated.

Who is your favourite photographer?
Simon Woolf of Wellington.

Why is the Masonic Villages Trust the perfect sponsor for the Capital Photographer of the Year “Society” category?
Because of the work we’ve done over the 60 years of our existence, we have created a vast library of photos. Photos of the villages and care facilities being developed and built and added to and remodelled etc, and photos of the many residents we have supported over the years. Those photos tell a wonderful human story about a slice of our country’s recent history. We have a compelling visual record of a time and place that’s special in our society and I think that’s very important, especially in this fast-paced and future-focussed world we live in today. So good photos that tell a story are very important to us and to me personally, too.

What are you hoping to see in the entries?
In a word, “Creativity”!  We’re hoping for images that tell a story, that evoke emotions, that make you think.  Images that either raise an eyebrow for some reason, or make you smile.

Enter Capital Photographer of the Year here

Read about our other sponsors here


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