Graeme Hart inducted into NZ Business Hall of Fame

New Zealand’s richest man is encouraging the next generation of business leaders to take risks.

Graeme Hart with his granddaughter Jemima Hawkesby, who introduced him as he was inducted into the NZ Business Hall of Fame.
Photo: Supplied

Graeme Hart has been reflecting on a series of his leaps of faith during his 50 year career, that now has him on the Forbes Billionaires 2022 list at spot 218.

The 67-year-old investor holds a net worth of $ 9.7 billion. He is New Zealand’s wealthiest person.

He was inducted into the NZ Business Hall of Fame on Thursday 18 August 2022.

“It’s a real privilege to find yourself in a position after a career, you know, Greg Thomas, Ulu’s, myself, Les Mills, where you are being recognized into the Hall of Fame.

“These are careers that span 40-50 years, in the case of the Beggs a lot longer. So yeah very proud.”

Laureats for the 2022 Business Hall of Fame: Bruce McLaren, Charles & Jessie Begg, Graeme Hart, Greg Tomlinson, Les, Jackie & Phillip Mills, Pania Tyson-Nathan and Uluomato'otua Aiono.

The laureates for the 2022 Business Hall of Fame.
Photo: RNZ / Lydia Lewis

2022 Laureates for the 2022 Business Hall of Fame:

  • Bruce McLaren
  • Charles & Jessie Begg
  • Graeme Hart
  • Greg Tomlinson
  • Les, Jackie & Phillip Mills
  • Pania Tyson-Nathan
  • Uluomato’otua Aiono
Graeme_Hart and Uluomato Otua Aiono speak at Cordis Hotel Auckland.

Graeme Hart and Uluomato’otua Aiono speak at Cordis Hotel Auckland.
Photo: RNZ / Lydia Lewis

Hart, who left school at aged 16, said youth and young adults could manage what he had achieved.

“I had a preparedness and an appetite for risk, now that is really important.

“You can do exactly what I have done.”

Hart’s father, who is now almost 97, played a pivotal role, granting him access to a small loan that would in turn multiply, he said.

“The first problem is I’ve got no money, okay. I can see what the opportunity looks like, so sitting down there somewhere is my father, so I go to my father and borrow $ 500, so $ 500 from dad and then bless his cotton socks he takes me to his bank manager. “

The bank manager gave him the other $ 2000 he needed to make the move and that was that, he was in the truck carrying business, he said.

Graeme Hart with his father, as the billionaire was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame.

Graeme Hart with his father, before the billionaire was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame.
Photo: Supplied

Over a career spanning five decades he has bought and remade some of the most iconic businesses in New Zealand, like Whitcoulls and Reynolds Packaging Group.

“There are many many more opportunities today, the world is growing. The capital markets, they are way more sophisticated,” Hart said.

“My market was sort of Auckland New Zealand but today anyone particularly starting in tech, the world is your oyster. There is more competition, there was less competition in my day but yes the answer is you can succeed today no question at all.

“Here’s the thing, so I didn’t have capital obviously, I didn’t have a formal education, I didn’t have experience but as I reflect on my career, what I have was within my DNA and this is just a blessing from mum and dad I guess, I had an absolute passion for business, I had a very strong commercial acumen, and so for me business was just that’s what I love. I had a great work ethic, I had a strong burning desire to succeed , although I don’t think I recognized that in the early days. “

Robyn Hart congratulates Graeme Hart at NZ Business Hall of Fame dinner.

Robyn Hart congratulates Graeme Hart at the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame dinner.
Photo: RNZ / Lydia Lewis

‘Tough act to follow’ – Hart’s granddaughter

It is early days for Hart’s granddaughter Jemima Hawkesby.

The 18-year-old spoke to RNZ after her grandfather was inducted.

“He’s very very humble and has a lot of passion,” Hawkesby said.

His achievements were at the forefront of her mind – “it’s definitely a tough act to follow and it is very inspiring”, she said.

Graeme Hart with his Granddaughter Jemima Hawkesby.

Graeme Hart with his granddaughter Jemima Hawkesby.
Photo: Supplied

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