The Dominion Post
Tribute to a Wellington Icon

Presented by The Dominion Post, individuals are selected to be honoured by the Gold Awards for their major contribution to Wellington business during their lifetime. 

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ROLL OF HONOUR

2015 - JIM, PETER, BRIAN & MARK McGUINNESS - landmark builders
2014 - SIR PETER JACKSON - Miramar movie mogul more...
2013 - ANDREW & BRIAN WHITTAKER - master chocolatiers more....
2012 - JENNY MOREL  - high tech venture capitalist more...
2011 - LLOYD MORRISON - infrastructure and utilities revitaliser  more...
2010 - SIR JOHN TODD - heading a huge family corporation more...
2009 - NEVILLE JORDAN - technology entrepreneur more...
2008 - SIR RON BRIERLEY- global business phenomenom more ...
2007 - SIR RODERICK DEANE - corporate leader more ...
2006 - SIR JOHN ANDERSON - business & community hero more ...
2005 - ALAN MARTIN - retail legend more ...

 

2015 RECIPIENT 

JIM, PETER, MARK & BRIAN McGUINNESS
Honoured for changing the face of the Capital’s landscape. Carrying on the legacy of their father who set up L.T. McGuinness in 1957, the brothers have played a huge part in the design, restoration and preservation of many landmark buildings in Wellington. The brothers also contribute to the community in a variety of very positive ways.

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2014 RECIPIENT

SIR PETER JACKSONMiramar movie mogul

In Dominion Post GM Gerard Watts words....
He started out as a photolithographer at the Evening Post. You could say he was a star employee, except he left long before I got this job.

To be honest, with his hands-on shoes-off sense of style Peter's not exactly the smartest thing to come out of Pukerua Bay - that honour would have to go the new Matangi trains - but he's close.

He grew up inspired by the Thunderbirds - the special effects, not the acting - and the late Ray Harryhausen, whose King Kong he would later seek to perfect - twice. Once in his teens, the next time with a whole lot of other people helping.

His early career involved a lot of splatter - Bad Taste, Brain Dead, and Meet the Feebles. He then concentrated on story-telling with the likes of Heavenly Creatures before combining the two - splatter and narrative - in a series of films that put New Zealand on the map. Perhaps not for the first time, but the first time it's been done in 3D, surround sound and with the pitter-patter of hairy little feet.

In the middle of Middle Earth there lies Wellington. Sir Peter's been good to Wellington, good for Wellington, and we've returned the favour, by turning on great weather for all his premieres.

He's not just a great film producer, director, writer and Oscar collector. Sir Peter is also an enthusiastic conservationist. While others have been busy saving whales and kakapo, Sir Peter has singlehandedly saved Bats, much to the relief of Wellington's theatregoers.

And much to the relief of the local film industry, Sir Peter has chosen to stay put. To be sure he jets between here and Hollywood, in his own jet, but he always comes back.

Just as well. Miramar, and the rest of Wellington, wouldn't be the same without him. He's a true Wellington Icon - Sir Peter Jackson.

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2013 RECIPIENTSAndrew-left-and-Brian-Whittaker-in-1991

Andrew & Brian Whittaker - master chocolatiers

Brothers Andrew and Brian Whittaker have spent the last 35 years making chocolate in their Porirua factory. And they love their job! With an excellent product, a trustworthy environmentally friendly brand that has been around since 1896, and constant innovation, this Kiwi family-owned company could become the biggest chocolate maker in New Zealand.

The two intensely private Whittaker brothers, (pictured here in 1991) are known in their factory as Andrew and Brian, have a hands-on style. If they’re not down on the factory floor in their blue overalls with their eighty staff, they’ll be in the tasting room dreaming up delicious new flavours. 

With an annual output of nearly 15 million big blocks of chocolate, Whittaker’s now has nearly 40 per cent of national tablet chocolate sales, with an annual growth rate of about ten per cent.

Whittaker’s is also looking to expand in the highly competitive international chocolate market and build on its growing export markets in Australia and Asia. In Singapore, Whittaker’s Almond Gold slab is the most popular single chocolate bar.

In the late 1970’s, Brian was running the company with Maurice, his father and Stephen, his uncle. Andrew then joined the family team.

Whittaker’s was started by their grandfather, British migrant James Whittaker in 1896 and has been producing quality chocolate ever since.

The company got its big chance to greatly increase its market in 2009 when its multinational competitor, Cadbury, reduced the size of its chocolate bars and at the same time, Cadbury switched to using palm oil in some products. This outraged customers with environmental concerns, as the growing of palm oil affects the habitat of the endangered orang-utan.

Whittaker’s, which uses no palm oil in any of its products, quickly became an attractive alternative to Cadbury. Its share of the big block market shot up to around 30 per cent within a year and its domestic retail sales in supermarkets and service stations leapt by 40 per cent.

Last year, in a survey conducted by Reader’s Digest, Whittaker’s was voted New Zealand’s most trusted brand. They beat – you guessed it – Cadbury, who had held top place for the previous six years.    

Thanks to the passionate and hands-on management of Andrew and Brian Whittaker, their company has become a major player in the New Zealand chocolate market, and its export prospects look rosy. And the next Whittaker generation is well represented, with Andrew’s son Matt and daughter Holly, both now working for the company.

Whittaker’s will be an important part of the Porirua and greater Wellington business scene for some time yet. As the Whittaker brothers say: blood is thicker than water, and chocolate is thicker than that.

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2012 RECIPIENT

Jenny MorelJenny Morel - high tech venture capitalist

Jenny Morel is an active, intelligent and highly principled entrepreneur, mentor and venture capitalist. She has encouraged and invested in technological innovation and ingenuity to build bigger and better New Zealand businesses.  

No 8 Ventures, the venture fund that Jenny leads, is currently involved with a diverse range of exciting businesses. If you’re a fan of the 1960s space age cartoon series “The Jetsons” then you’ll know what a jetpack is. The Martin Aircraft Company, based in Christchurch, is the developer of the Martin Jetpack.

This exciting project began way back in 1981 in Glen Martin’s garage. Last year the Jetpack flew to 5000 feet. Originally designed with the leisure market in mind, the Martin Jetpack has found strong demand from a wide range of markets, including the military and civil defence and recreation. The Martin Jetpack was picked by TIME Magazine as one of the world’s best 50 inventions of 2010.

This year celebrates the eleventh year of “Morgo”. Founded by Jenny, Morgo is a get-together for people building high-growth businesses from New Zealand. Though many who attend Morgo are from technology companies, it also attracts entrepreneurs from a diverse range of companies producing such things as children’s clothes, airplane interiors, and coffee.

Morgo attracts interesting and stimulating speakers from New Zealand and overseas but more importantly it gets leading New Zealand entrepreneurs talking together, about the latest technological innovations as well as focusing on how best to lead their high-growth company forward in the future. 

With such an interesting and diverse range of business interests Jenny Morel has ably demonstrated that being involved in venture capital and making business successful can not only be highly stimulating and financially rewarding, but also great fun.
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2011 RECIPIENT

Lloyd Morrison - infrastructure and utilities revitaliserLloyd Morrison

If you were to have played Monopoly with Lloyd Morrison you’d probably have been able to buy up the blue, green and yellow properties unchallenged. But look sideways at the Electricity Company or Fenchurch St Station and you’d have had a fight on your hands. Utilities and infrastructure, infrastructure and utilities – that’s what Lloyd was all about.

It started like this: Lloyd had been running his investor advisory business Morrison and Co since 1988 and decided to take his own advice and invest in infrastructure. So in 1994 Infratil was born, listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and becoming one of the world's first listed infrastructure funds.

Infratil was named Deloitte/Management Magazine Company of the Year in 2007. And Lloyd himelf was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year Honours for services to business.

But it’s not all about making money. Okay it is, but it’s what you do with it that counts and that’s where Lloyd Morrison is a bit different from the rest.

He claimed to be a Right-wing capitalist, but there was a touch of the socialist about him too – he said wealth should be used to help those who aren’t quite as good at helping themselves, providing boot-laces for people to pull themselves up by. So Infratil supports community initiatives through Trustpower, and in a venture with Waitakere, and also supports the Wellington High Performance Aquatics diving squad – Lloyd was the Institute’s patron, as well as being a patron of the Arts.

And throughout it all, Lloyd stayed in Wellington. He could have run the business from Auckland, Sydney, even Glasgow… but he stayed here. When the going gets tough, perhaps the really tough stay put.

Lloyd Morrison, 1957 – 2012. Entrepreneur, philanthropist, inspiration.

Obituary
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2010 RECIPIENT

Sir John Todd - heading a huge family corporationJohn Todd

There aren’t many businesses in New Zealand that have been around for over a century and a quarter and even fewer family businesses still in the family.  There’s probably just one – called Todd. 

The Todd family brought the first motor car into the Otago district in 1908. They bought a Ford dealership and developed several franchises, culminating in the Todd Motors car dealerships and assembly plants, first in Petone and then in Porirua, at Todd Park. Opened in 1975 on a single site of 29 hectares it was then the largest, most modern and efficient assembly plant in the country. 

The Todds had other interests to do with motor vehicles – fuelling them. A supply problem in Christchurch in the early 1930’s forced the company to source its own petrol – from Russia, the brand called Europa to disguise its origins, Europa was the first to offer electric petrol pumps in New Zealand and had the first articulated road tankers, as well as initiating the sale of consumer products in service station forecourts.

Todd Energy is just half the story. Todd Capital is a long-term strategic investor that seeks significant corporate investments in New Zealand and Australia. Todd was a key player in the development of Clear Communications, that today, as TelstraClear, is Telecom's main competitor – and it helped fund and develop satellite broadcaster Sky Network Television, remaining an important shareholder.

The Todd family has a strong history of philanthropy, with the first formal Todd charitable trust established in the 1950s. John Todd chairs the Foundation today. The Todd Corporation and Todd family members continue to provide on-going support to the Todd Foundation through annual donations, with family members actively involved in governance and taking a keen interest in the foundation’s activities.

In 2011, John Todd was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and the community. He also helped found Philanthropy New Zealand, building on the philanthropic work of the Todd Foundation, which was formed in 1972 and still gives $2 million a year to science, education and charities.

John Todd – philanthropist, businessman and committed family man.
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2009 RECIPIENT

Neville Jordan - technology entrepreneurNeville Jordan

Growing up in Petone in the 40s and 50s, life wasn't all beer and skittles, but for Neville Jordan it was a happy and nurturing environment.  Stung by an early school report that said he lacked initiative, young Neville fought back and became Dux.

Neville graduated in engineering from Canterbury University and took off for study in America, before joining IBM. Feeling he could do better under his own steam, in 1975 Neville resigned and started his own company on two days later, designing and producing electronics with military applications. MAS Technology grew, and grew, and grew. And soon, it was time to list on the stock exchange. 

The New Zealand stock exchange wasn’t interested – MAS had limited appeal to New Zealand investors, they said. Not so NASDAQ, which welcomed MAS, and Neville, with open arms, making MAS the only privately owned New Zealand company to list on the main board. The move – in 1997 - reaped immediate rewards.  Not only did it raise a lot of cash, but MAS was propelled into a period of enormous growth and recognition. Eighteen months later Neville sold his shares to an international company, and retired - for about three weeks - before re-emerging as a venture capitalist. Endeavour Capital is a leading New Zealand private equity company, investing predominantly in the science and technology sectors.

Neville is passionate about his leisure time as well – and just as adventurous.  He’s been involved in ocean-going yacht racing, scuba diving in the arctic and has motorcycled through many exotic locations. Through his Jordan Foundation he has generously supported education and the performing arts for over 20 years.

His secret? Utter confidence in your abilities, recognising your shortfalls and having the desire to achieve.  And achieve is what the lad from Petone has consistently done.
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2008 RECIPIENT 

Sir Ron Brierley - global business phenomenomSir Ron Brierly

He's been called a lot of things over the years and many of them quite polite - like shrewd, astute, insightful and a genius.

Sir Ron Brierley got his start in the business world at Wellington College in the early nineteen fifties, when he was just plain Ronald Arthur. The Kiwi Stamp Company operated at lunchtimes out of Ron's desk, working on the principle of buying cheaply in bulk in the hope of finding the odd treasure that could be sold for a large profit. Simple, effective and enduring…

Out of school, and university, Brierley's next step was to publish a share market tip sheet, New Zealand Stocks and Shares. Its robust, no-holds-barred - some might say cheeky - style won him no friends but it got him noticed and more importantly gave him an insight into the share market. He saw plenty of opportunities - undervalued shares, inefficient management, assets that could be redeployed elsewhere - and realised he could make his mark. In 1961, R A Brierley Investments Ltd was born.

Twenty years later BIL, as it was now known, had made the Top Twenty of New Zealand's largest companies, and by 1984 had become the largest in terms of market capitalisation.

Knighted in 1987, Sir Ron stepped down from active control of BIL in 1990. He was appointed Chairman of his private investment vehicle, Guinness Peat Group, that same year. Few can doubt his business acumen - in a look back at the heady days of 1980's entrepreneurs, the Melbourne Age highlighted Sir Ron as the standout success, in fact the only success.

From the start Sir Ron challenged the prevailing attitudes to business in New Zealand, of both business people and the Government of the day. In fact, legislation was sometimes brought in to try to curb his enthusiasms but forty years on, his aggressive approach has become the norm, and the Brierley style - hard work and astute judgement, and a bit of nous - is now the textbook way to business success.
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2007 RECIPIENT

Sir Roderick Deane - Corporate LeaderRod Deane

The career of Dr. Roderick Deane is in many ways a peculiarly Wellington story - a provincial boy who came to the city and made good in both public and private business arenas. Yet behind that glib summary is an impressive story of achievement which is probably unique in the business annals of New Zealand.

Deane first came to Wellington in 1959 as an undergraduate to Victoria University, taking up residence in the Baptist Youth Hostel. A stellar academic career including the ultimate achievement of a Ph.D followed, along with an equally important event in his lifetime of success - meeting his future wife Gillian.

Deane emerged as the man in the right place at the right time to assume the position of Chairman of the State Services Commission as the reforms of the 1980's became reality. Deane's ability to reform the SSC without total meltdown in the process marked him out as not just an outstanding theoretician, but a practical manager at the highest level.

Less appreciated but no less pivotal than his public career was the challenge that Roderick and Gillian faced bringing up their daughter Kristen who suffered from acute Rett Syndrome, a debilitating mental condition. This experience led them to a lifelong involvement with the IHC, and not the least of Roderick's contributions to his country has been his role in this organisation.

After a term at the SSC, Deane was shoulder-tapped to be chief executive of the newly created SOE ECNZ. Once again, Deane was very successful in this hugely difficult endeavour - done against a backdrop of public unease and difficult economic and political times.

After his five years at ECNZ, Telecom knocked on the door. As New Zealand's largest listed company, with a bevy of hardnosed international shareholders, this was the ultimate challenge - and one that once again Deane met with outstanding success by any measure be it public services delivered, tax paid to Government or shareholder value built.

Roderick Deane has always been happy to let his results speak for themselves. The Gold Awards salute him and pay tribute to his enormous contribution to New Zealand's business world as a thinker, a 'do-er' and a leader.
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2006 RECIPIENT

Sir John Anderson - Business and Community LeaderSir John Anderson

Sir John Anderson is the very embodiment of that classic Kiwi description 'A good bloke'. As New Zealand's most decorated businessman, Sir John's career has been one of outstanding achievement in both corporate and civic life.

But Sir John would be the first to say that he owes his success to the excellent people that he has worked with over the years and to his family. What he would not say, but all those who have worked with him would say, is that his greatest strength was to get the best out of people, and inspire them to be leaders and managers of the highest calibre.

It's characteristic of Sir John that once he has his foot in the door, it won't be long before he is running the show. This is testimony not to pushiness or self-promotion, but his fantastic blend of leadership, professional capability and sheer hard yakka.

So it proved at Southpac, at age 35 'the Big Guy' as he was known in the trade became Chief Executive of Southpac, ultimately overseeing the merger of Southpac with The National Bank. Even with all his community and business involvements, Sir John took the National Bank to the forefront of banking practice in New Zealand.

In 2003, the ANZ purchased The National Bank, a $12 billion merger, the largest ever in New Zealand, forming the largest company in New Zealand. Sir John was paid the ultimate compliment to head up the new organization, but he had one condition in taking the appointment - that was that the Head Office stayed in Wellington. Retirement beckoned, and Sir John relinquished his banking responsibilities in 2005.

What's a good Kiwi bloke to do? Go Fishing? Not likely (although he has been known to tickle the odd trout). Take on the Chairmanship of TVNZ? Yeah Right! But that's exactly what this quiet but prodigious achiever has done - stepping once more into the corporate breach… Sir John has received accolades from his peers and his country for his remarkable achievements in New Zealand's corporate and community life, and his contributions on the international stage.
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2005 RECIPIENT

Alan Martin - Retail LegendAlan Martin

There are certain iconic phrases fixed firmly in the subconscious of your average Kiwi. Some we use every day; others need just a memory nudge to spill out in full.  One of the most enduring phrases came from the mouth of an avuncular, bespectacled chap, all earnest and honest, during the first quarter century of television in this country, making him a household name: “It's the putting right that counts.”

That gentleman was Alan Martin. Alan started work in his dad Leo's Lambton Quay music shop in 1934, then selling and servicing radios. He pestered his father with so many suggestions that Leo, basically, told him to go off and do his own thing.

He did, and the rest is history. “Putting right” summed up what L V Martin and Son was all about. In 43 years at the helm, Alan grew the business to three retail appliance stores, a bedding store and a mail-order operation.

At the height of L V Martin's success, Alan declared he knew nothing about marketing when he started. "Marketing is what big companies do when they want to impress. People want security, honesty and personal advice. They ask themselves, 'do I trust this man?' "

Many, many thousands of satisfied customers did. And any that weren't satisfied had extraordinary access to Alan and later his son Neil when he took over the firm. Alan was on call 24 hours a day. He revealed once that the calls were a tremendous intrusion into his family's life.

Alan's commitment to his customers was mirrored by his staff. There would be no business that shared so much information with its staff as Alan did with his. They repaid him with a loyalty few modern businesses could boast of.

Alan Martin died in 2007. We honoured him and his contribution to the business community, this city and its people. And we thanked him for putting things right.  

Alan Martin 1926-2007. Gentleman and Retailing Pioneer

Obituary

 

 
 
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