Peter Fannin’s extraordinarily generous founding donation of $100,000 is to establish an Indigenous apprenticeship fund as the Olive Pink Botanic Garden celebrates 60 years

peter fanninIn an extraordinarily generous deed, Peter Fannin, Northern Territorian of the Year in 2006, has made a founding donation of $100,000 to the Olive Pink Botanic Garden to set up an Indigenous Apprenticeship fund. “It is originally money from Aboriginal paintings so it is going to support Aboriginal people” said Peter Fannin.

Peter is a botanist, conservationist, art lover and most of all, a generous philanthropist and contributor to the community. Since the 1970s, Peter has been instrumental in encouraging Indigenous Australians to express their culture through painting, leading to the world renowned, watershed Papunya art movement.

Now 86 and living in Alice Springs, Peter along with renowned Central Australian Botanist Peter Latz joined an impressive list of Alice Springs identities and interstate guests (including Professors Julie Marcus and Anne Boyd), to celebrate Miss Pink founding the garden 60 years ago. Libby Prell, Chair of the Olive Pink Botanic Garden Board of Trustees hosted the evening including a Q&A session with interesting and controversial locals and interstate visitors. Exciting local band Apakatja played.
Professor Julie Marcus, author of The Indomitable Miss Pink, told of Miss Pink founding the garden, an extraordinary story of determination, hardship and vision. While in her early 70’s, Miss Pink lived in a tent on the site for 18 months and campaigned for it to be declared a native flora reserve.

As Professor Julie Marcus says of Miss Pink:

 “she was a threatening figure in her lifetime because she pinpointed the most controversial issues of her day and highlighted them in ways that other anthropologists did not … these issues continue to be important today”.

Once the flora reserve was declared, Miss Pink employed Indigenous gardeners who were some of the first Indigenous people in Central Australia to be paid the full wage – following a fierce campaign by Miss Pink!

Peter, with his $100,000 founding donation to establish a fund for the employment of Indigenous apprentices, he is following in Miss Pink’s footsteps. Trustees of the Garden and Alice Mayor Damien Ryan, having made his own personal contributions to the Fund, are calling for the Alice community to donate to reach the Fund target of $250,000. When the target is reached, earning from the fund will be used to employ an apprentice.

The fund will operate in perpetuity. Two people have already pledged bequests to the fund.

“With this extraordinary generosity we are already half way to reaching the target”

said the Curator of the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Ian Coleman.

Todays’ Garden is a far cry from the goat-grazed and degraded land of 60 years ago.

Peter Latz describes it as

“globally unique treasure-trove of biodiversity and store of potential foods and medical cures”.

Saturday nights event will be followed by a native plant sale featuring local bushfood species on the 1st October from 8 am.

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