Our centenary has been an opportunity to reflect on what’s helped us endure, and how we can continue to evolve our company to meet the changing needs of our Members and our community. MAS CEO Martin Stokes explains how MAS’s refreshed purpose can help guide the company as it begins its second century.
MAS was founded in 1921 as Aotearoa emerged from the ravages of WWI and the Spanish influenza pandemic that followed. Today as we build our resilience to a new global pandemic, it’s clear that the principles inspiring our founders to establish MAS – mutual support and a belief in community – are as relevant now as they ever were.
And as we look back on what we have achieved over the past century, this year has been a time for us to consider what comes next, and how we can meet the challenges of the century that is to come.
Affirming our purpose at the heart of our business
Central to this undertaking has been working out what we are here to do. On one level, that seems like an easy question to answer. We’re here to serve our Members through meeting their insurance and investment needs.
But beyond this, we want to be an organisation that helps our Members make a positive impact on their communities, and works to inspire a healthier Aotearoa.
So what does “a healthier Aotearoa” look like? Most obviously, it would include the better physical health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, and the improved public health of our communities. However, it also encompasses building stronger relationships between the different communities within our society, and acting in a way that sustains the health of the environment within which we live and work.
So although our day-to-day business might be focused on protecting you or your family, the trust you place in MAS will help us make a meaningful, long-term contribution to Aotearoa as a whole.
Above / Sujai Jones works in the Member Support Centre
Sujai Jones works in the Member Support Centre
The School Strike 4 Climate showed the passion of young Kiwis to solve the climate crisis
Top / The School Strike 4 Climate showed the passion of young Kiwis to solve the climate crisis
Bottom / MAS was established in the wake of a global pandemic
MAS was established in the wake of a global pandemic
Reinventing our company to reflect our purpose
We are serious about making a real difference to New Zealand. That’s why we’ve made some major changes to the way we do things over the past few years.
In 2018 MAS Members voted overwhelmingly to become a registered charity. This allowed us to establish the MAS Foundation to support projects that promote greater health equity for all New Zealanders, particularly for people in underprivileged communities.
The Foundation has already made grants totaling just under $1.5m in its first eighteen months, and in this issue of OnMAS, you can read about two of the projects it’s supporting – the work being done by the Men’s Health Trust, and Matt Shand’s research as Health Equity Fellow at the Helen Clark Foundation.
Another aspect of our commitment to a healthier Aotearoa is our responsible investment strategy. This guides the way we invest not only our Members’ KiwiSaver and retirement savings, but also the way we invest our own capital reserves. Ethical or responsible investing is a topic that is becoming increasingly prominent in public discourse, but it’s something that has guided our work since 2017. Our Head of Investments Colin Thomson outlines our views on what it means to be a responsible investor in this issue.
It would be difficult to talk about a healthier Aotearoa in 2021 without discussing COVID. The pandemic has challenged all of us and the road ahead looks to be an uncertain one as we work out how to reconnect with the world without undue risk.
Of particular concern to us was the impact of the pandemic and the associated lockdowns on the wellbeing of our Members and our own people. This is why we established the Āki Wellbeing Hub, which is free to all our Members and their families, and why we are currently looking at ways to adjust our life and disability insurance products to better address mental health concerns.
Becoming an even better insurance and investment company
We are under no illusions that we can inspire a healthier Aotearoa by ourselves, or that improvements in the health of our society can happen overnight. But lasting change will not happen at all without setting a goal.
It is a goal you are helping us work towards through your membership and support. Indeed, it is a goal you – and generations of MAS Members before you – have set for us. Our Members have always been active members of the community, and have thought beyond their own immediate interests and concerns. To me, our purpose is nothing more than a fresh articulation of a purpose that has always inspired the Members that comprise our mutual.
I’m excited about what the future holds for MAS, and I look forward to your joining us as we set out on our next hundred years.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, ēngari taku toa he toa takatini.
Success is not the work of one, but the work of many.
MAS CEO Martin Stokes