Heart Foundation Lottery: Saving lives with life-changing prizes

New house
If you win the house, you can choose what to do with it. Photo credit: Supplied

Owning a house is something many New Zealanders dream of, and the Heart Foundation Lottery turns that dream into a reality for seven lucky winners every year. 

This year is the 30th birthday of the Heart Foundation Lottery, and the 145th home is now up for grabs, as well as other amazing prizes like overseas holidays, cash and a Toyota car.  

This time round, the premium prize is a fully furnished three-bedroom Jennian home in Clarks Beach, Auckland worth over a million dollars.

"Jennian joined us 15 years ago," says Alison Wheatley-Mahon, Head of Fundraising & Partnerships.  

"They've built 89 homes so far for us; there's nothing else like it. They're completely committed to our cause of improving the heart health of all New Zealanders and we're so grateful."

If you win the house, you can choose what to do with it, whether that's keep it and move in, rent it out for income, use it as a holiday home, or sell it. The prize houses are in different locations around the country each draw, and they don't have to be local for you to enter and win. It is a life-changing prize, no matter what you do with it. 

140th draw winners Henk and Marijke were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary when they got the call to tell them they'd won a brand-new home in Mangawhai, north of Auckland. The timing couldn't be more perfect, as they had been contemplating what their next chapter might be. With their daughter living in Auckland, they made the move from Upper Moutere to Mangawhai to live in their stunning new home and be closer to family. 

For Shannon and her young children, it meant the opportunity to live in their dream location in Whitianga after winning the 132nd Heart Foundation Lottery. Dan, from Auckland, was able to take that important first step onto the property ladder by selling the house he won in Napier in the 135th Lottery, and purchasing in Auckland.  

Another first prize winner, Robert, has been buying Heart Foundation Lottery tickets for twenty years. "It's a cause very close to me," he says. "My mother had heart problems, which inspired me to start buying Lottery tickets. Then, I also had a heart episode just two years ago, and was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat."

Robert says he saw buying a ticket as a donation, and was "over the moon" when he found out he'd won a beautiful house in Wānaka in the 142nd Lottery draw.  

"I bought tickets because of what the Heart Foundation does for people through their research," he says. "And lots of people I've talked to about my prize are now going to buy tickets too, because they can see real people like me actually win!"

This time, second prize is a trip to London, and third prize is a trip to the Whitsundays, Australia. There is also the opportunity to win a Toyota car, if you buy more than one ticket, and $10,000 cash if you are an early buyer.  

At the end of the day, while the prizes are exciting and potentially life-changing, there is an important reason behind the Heart Foundation Lottery. All proceeds go towards life-saving research, specialist cardiologist training, and heart health education and support programmes. 

Heart disease is the single biggest killer of New Zealanders. A family loses a loved one every 90 minutes.  

"It's a shocking statistic, and many of those deaths are actually preventable and premature," says Wheatley-Mahon. "Thanks to the Lottery and other kind donations we've put millions into heart research projects. We support training for cardiologists by funding them to go overseas to some of the best hospitals in the world to learn more and bring that knowledge back to New Zealand." 

The Heart Foundation provides heart health education programmes to all ages to encourage people to have a heart-healthy lifestyle. They also provide support programmes that help some of the 175,000 people currently living with heart disease in this country.  

"The work we do is making an impact, but unfortunately the fight hasn't been won yet, and we still need to continue," says Wheatley-Mahon.

The Lottery is one of the Heart Foundation's biggest fundraisers, and is conducted under the heavy scrutiny of the Gambling Act.  

The Lottery started as a bold and innovative decision in 1993 to buy and raffle a new home in Pauanui to raise more funds. The team literally sold tickets from raffle books at the open home every weekend.

It's more sophisticated these days with online sales and tickets instantly emailed to buyers. 

"It doesn't matter how many tickets you buy, every ticket truly makes a difference to our work. We're so grateful for the support of everyone who has played the Lottery over the past 30 years," says Wheatley-Mahon.

If you want to support the Heart Foundation's vital work, and go in the draw for a chance to win amazing prizes, you can buy a one-off ticket or set up an auto-buy at heartlottery.org.nz 

Article created in partnership with Heart Foundation NZ