Millionaire's gift helps fund new school in south Auckland

A multi-millionaire's final gift has been credited with helping build a new school opening in south Auckland next month.

It's one of several charitable endeavours bankrolled by an unlikely philanthropist, Harold Plumley, who left his vast fortune to the Catholic Church.

The brand-spanking new Catholic school in Drury, opening February 7, promises to deliver the most up-to-date learning experience for foundation students like Paikea Harris-Fourie.

"It's a really big school compared to the little country school I used to go to, and it's very flash as well," said Harris-Fourie.

She's one of 340 students in years 7 to 9 enrolled at St Ignatius of Loyola College, which already has plans to expand.

"Every year we will be increasing by year level until we're a full year 7 to 13 college, and that means by 2028 we should have about 900 students on the roll," said St Ignatius of Loyola College principal, Dean Wearmouth.

But the school may never have been built, had it not been the bequest of 91-year-old Harold Plumley - a multi-millionaire who bought second-hand cars and lived in the same modest Māngere home for most of his life.

The property investor was known for being a penny-pincher and was rumoured to reuse his tea bags.

With no children of his own, he gifted his $122 million fortune to the Auckland Catholic Diocese.

"I'm very grateful for that because otherwise, we wouldn't have a Catholic school out in south Auckland," said Harris-Fourie.

"From what I understand, he was a very humble man and never looked for recognition and naming things or anything like that," said Bishop of Auckland Stephen Lowe.

In addition to the school, Plumley's millions will go towards other charitable causes around the country, in areas encompassed by the Auckland Diocese.

"I'd like to see the presence of Catholic social services in Te Tai Tokerau. I'd also like for us to have a bigger outreach in terms of poverty in south Auckland," Lowe told Newshub.