Sir Henry Kelliher was appointed to the Board of the Bank of New Zealand in 1938 and was a strong advocate for a balanced money supply. Economics, and a wider understanding of money and banking, motivated Sir Henry to establish the Kelliher Economics Foundation in 1964 originally, in the form of an essay competition.

The competition’s aims were “to encourage young New Zealanders to study the working and effects of the monetary and economic system under which they live and in particular to understand the Reserve Bank’s role in achieving and maintaining a stable level of prices”.

Foundation Alumni have achieved outstanding success in a wide range of organisations and careers. For example, 1979 alumnus Charles Elworthy, Economist and Social Scientist, who is currently the visiting Business Fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, whilst also being the Head of Research at the Map of Agriculture, 1983 alumna Suzi Kerr, taking up the position of Chief Economist, Environmental Defence Fund, New York in 2019.

As of 2019 the Undergraduate Scholarship is no longer offered, with the Foundation now supporting higher thinking at university and other research groups.

The Kelliher Charitable Trust and Kelliher Economics Foundation have a particular interest in agriculture and, accordingly have historically provided financial support to Motu Economic and Public Policy Research organisation. The resulting research project: “How do Commodity Prices, Climate Change Policy and Water Quality Policy Affect Rural Community Outcomes?” is on public record.  Other Economic/Agricultural research opportunities is currently being investigated.