Maxim Institute was born out of a desire to help build a better future for all New Zealanders.
Several catalysts lead to its establishment. Early in 2001, Sir John Graham, then Auckland University Chancellor, convened a meeting of several New Zealanders who shared a common concern for the future of the country. All were motivated by a desire to see New Zealand society strengthened, and to see the ideas shaping the political and social landscape of New Zealand being well-considered.
Among this group was Greg Fleming, then General Manager of Parenting with Confidence (Parents Inc.). During that meeting Sir John Graham asked Greg “What are you doing to contribute to the future of New Zealand?” That question was the genesis of an idea that would culminate in Greg founding Maxim Institute on 12 November 2001, together with Bruce Logan, who had been running the New Zealand Education Development Foundation (NZEDF) in Christchurch for a number of years.
After a few solid years of work, Maxim Institute grew rapidly to become a substantial organisation, producing a large amount of work and contributing regularly to the public debate. The work was spread across two offices, in Auckland and Christchurch.
In July 2005, Managing Director, Greg Fleming, received a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award for his outstanding leadership. Also in 2005, the US-based Atlas Economic Research Foundation awarded Maxim Institute three Templeton Freedom Prizes, for: Institute Excellence (1st place) Social Entrepreneurship (2nd place) and Initiative in Public Relations (2nd place).
In December 2005, having seen Maxim Institute successfully established, Bruce Logan retired from Maxim Institute. With Bruce's retirement, the Christchurch office was closed. The pace of the work was slowed to allow a focus on longer-term research. The work consolidated into one, Auckland-based office.
Since its inception, Maxim Institute has undertaken comprehensive analysis and made innovative recommendations to select committees and policy-makers on a range of issues including: schooling and the NCEA; the establishment of the Families Commission; prostitution law reform; the inquiry into “hate speech”; electoral issues; MMP; probationary employment; parental authority; and New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.
Maxim Institute has published numerous reports and papers in key policy areas including: education, constitutional issues, tax and the economy, the role of family, criminal justice and foreign aid. We have also published books that look at the ideas influencing our culture and public policy.
In 2006, Maxim Institute’s education reports, The Parent Factor series, was announced the winner of the Innovative Projects category of the Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Awards, ahead of nominations from 70 think tanks around the world.
Working with young leaders
Hanging beside the front door of the Maxim Institute office is a quote by Boris Pasternak that says “It is not revolutions and upheavals that clear the road to new and better days, but someone’s soul inspired and ablaze.” Ideas are given life in people, and this recognition has increasingly shaped Maxim Institute’s work.
Maxim Institute has run summer internships every years since 2002, taking on young leaders from a range of professional fields, helping them think through their foundational beliefs, to hone professional and personal skills, to wrestle with the ideas that dominate our culture, and to think creatively about how they will contribute to the future of New Zealand.
In 2005, after Greg Fleming received the Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leaders award, and along with it, a grant, we began to explore how we could extend our work with the leaders of tomorrow.
A residential property was made available for the internship, and in 2008 Maxim Institute began to run internships during the academic year as well as the summer, giving more young leaders a chance to deepen their thinking and to hone their personal and professional skills through living together in a residential context while they study and work.
In 2011, Maxim Institute celebrated its tenth birthday. In many ways Maxim Institute is still a young organisation, evolving and developing as the work progresses. It is too early to know the full impact of our work, but we are committed to New Zealand for the long haul. We are busy challenging the depth, the shape, the foundations of New Zealand’s public policy debates, by conducting solid research from which policy directions can be developed, and by developing ideas and stirring public debate.
Speaking into the world of ideas and investing in the lives of young people is a privilege. We are proud to play a part in working to help freedom, justice and compassion to flourish in this country.