27 August 2023

Hunting and Wildlife Magazine - Autumn Issue 220

Words By: Alby Frampton, National Life Member, Past National President and Gwyn Thurlow, CEO and Wellington Branch Treasure


Mark and Dorothy at the opening of Deerstalkers House Wellington, in the Wellington Branch hall that bears his name.


In the 2022 New Year's Honours, Mark Dunajtschik was knighted, recognising his outstanding contributions to the fields of business and philanthropy. This prestigious honour is a testament to his lifetime of achievement and dedication to improving the lives of others.

Origins in Tools

Sir Mark has had a long and successful career in the business world. His career started as a toolmaker in Wellington following his relocation from Europe where he lived as a child after his escape from Yugoslavia where he was interned in a camp after the Second World War.

His toolmaking workshop soon became Wellington’s largest specialist tool shop, the sale of which to his nephew launched him into his first commercial property deal. From there he entered into property development, building a business that specialises in large-scale property development projects.

Under the leadership of Mark and his life partner Dorothy Spotswood, the business has become a leading player in the New Zealand property market, with a reputation for delivering high-quality projects that meet the needs of the communities they serve. To this day, Mark and Dorothy are active in managing their properties and interests.

Sir Mark’s Philanthropy

Sir Mark's impact goes far beyond the business world. He is a committed philanthropist, with a particular focus on supporting medical research and the arts. He has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to a range of causes, including the construction of Wellington’s new Children's Hospital, the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. His contributions have made a real difference to the lives of countless people across New Zealand.

In addition to his philanthropic work, Sir Mark is also an active member of the community. He has served on the boards of a number of organisations, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency. He is also a keen supporter of the arts, and has been a generous donor to a range of cultural institutions.

Contributions to Hunting and NZDA

On top of his support for the arts and medicine, Sir Mark is a pillar of the New Zealand hunting community, especially NZDA. It was hunting opportunities and our backcountry that made the adventurous Mark settle and lay his roots here. The NZDA is lucky for his choice as the new Knight later became our Patron of the NZDA, after serving for more than 35 years on the Wellington Branch committee as Treasurer. In 2021, in the midst of the global pandemic, he donated $50,000 to cover the membership levies for all NZDA members. His other contributions include being a trustee of the NZDA National Heritage Trust, underwriting the purchase of Deerstalker House in Wellington, in addition to dollar-for-dollar matching of all donations to the Building Donation Fund, which amassed $80,000, half from Mark. That building is now the home of our National Hunting and Shooting Museum and Reference Library. Without Sir Mark’s contributions the Deerstalkers would not be where we are now, having also underwritten the CEO’s salary for the first year to support the then Board’s modernisation plan and give them the confidence to take a risk. Mark seems to have a good sense for when risks are needed, and his reward has been great.

The Wellington Branch also owes particular gratitude to Sir Mark – and so their new meeting hall bears his name. As an early member, joining in a late 50’s, and long-time (now retired) Treasurer, the Wellington Branch has been placed in a phenomenal financial position allowing it to serve its members and the hunting community in the capital. This was all off the back of Mark’s advice and wisdom.

Sir Mark, the Top Tier Trophy Hunter

If you are not yet convinced by his professional and philanthropic accolades, Sir Mark is also a well accomplished recreational hunter. His name appears twice in the record books with a particularly impressive Tahr shot in 1969 in the Whataroa Valley which placed him in the top ten when it was shot. The record book bull measures 9 ¾’’ at the bases for a total score of 46 ¼ DS.  He also earned an entry for a 10” buck Chamois taken in 1994 in the Waiatoto Valley which has a DS score of 27 ¼.

Thank you, Mark

Throughout his career, Sir Mark has shown a commitment to excellence and a willingness to give back to the community. His knighthood is a well-deserved recognition of his achievements, and a testament to the positive impact he has had on New Zealand society. It is also an inspiration to others, showing that hard work, dedication, and a commitment to making a difference can truly make a lasting impact.

As we celebrate Sir Mark Dunajtschik's knighthood, we also celebrate the values that he embodies. He has shown us that success is not just about achieving personal goals, but about using our talents and resources to make the world a better place. We are proud to have Sir Mark as a part of our Association, and we look forward to seeing the continued positive impact he will have in the years to come.

Congratulations to our Patron, Sir Mark Dunajtschik!

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