Born Joyce Paykel in 1912, Joyce grew up in Epsom, Auckland and attended Epsom Girls Grammar. In September 1935 she married Woolf Fisher, friend and business partner of her brother Maurice Paykel.
After Maurice’s father imported an excess of refrigerators, Maurice and Woolf set up Fisher and Paykel in 1934. They quickly sold through the stock, and the company went on to become a household name.
The young couple purchased a farm in Mt Wellington and built the homestead Ra Ora. They developed a successful stud farm and a home where family, friends, and influential people, including Queen Elizabeth II on her 1953 tour of New Zealand, gathered to enjoy the hospitality of Woolf and Joyce.
Joyce was always surrounded by her beloved labradors and horses, and enjoyed entertaining. Although Sir Woolf and Lady Fisher did not have children of their own, they loved helping young people succeed.
As their business success grew so did the couple’s concern for the welfare of New Zealand’s youth. In 1960 the Woolf Fisher Trust was created with the mission to support the advancement of scientific and general education.
Around the same time, Woolf and Joyce were asked to join a group of prominent New Zealanders to help establish an Outward Bound School. Through Fisher & Paykel, Woolf sponsored six young people to go on the first Outward Bound programme. He was also elected as President of the Outward Bound Trust. He served in this position from 1961–1963, and as a National Councillor from 1961-1975.
During Woolf's lifetime over 80 young people were sponsored to attend Outward Bound. In 1964 his hard work was recognised, and he was knighted for services to industry and philanthropy. After his death, a $2m pledge from the Chartitable Trust launched our Outward Bound Foundation.
After 40 happy years of marriage, Sir Woolf died in 1975. Shortly after her husband’s death, Joyce chose to honour his legacy. To continue their life’s work of supporting others she created the Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust.
The focus of the Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust is to provide young New Zealanders opportunities to enhance their leadership skills and values, creating community, role model and future leaders.
Throughout her life, Joyce maintained an on-going connection with Outward Bound. The Trust received a cheque from her every year, along with a heartfelt handwritten note endorsing our “worthwhile charitable work.” She described us as an organisation that was a pleasure to support.