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Graeme Avery, a man of many parts – scientist, athlete, publisher, businessman and wine buff — has been knighted for services to sport and business in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Sir Graeme built his fortune (estimated at $80 million on the NBR RIch List) from Adis International, a medical publishing company on Auckland's North Shore that he turned from nothing into a global force.
Along with Dave Norris, he was also founder of the North Shore Bays athletics club.
"He was remarkably selfless with his time, money and organisational efforts," remembers former club member Chris Keall.
A major project in the 1980s was upgrading the club's run-down, 300m grass track at Windsor Park (adjoining Rangitoto College) to a modern stadium with a tartan track.
To help save money on the $3 million project, Sir Graeme eschewed security guards in favour of cajoling a roster of volunteers to sleep in a caravan onsite.
"It probably broke about 1000 of today's OSH rules, but it it helped get things done," Keall says.
Despite furious efforts, fundraising was still well behind target as the deadline approached. An anonymous donation came in at the last minute to close the gap. There was little doubt about its source.
A series of Robin Tait Classic events at East Coast Bays stadium during the 1990s included an appearance by Carl Lewis in 1997, bankrolled by Sir Graeme.
North Shore Bays donated its stadium assets to the Millennium Institute of Sports and Health, which opened an expanded facility — supported by Sir Graeme and Sir Stephen Tindall — in 2002. Since 2009, the Institute has been operated by AUT University.
Sir Graeme was voted 2003 New Zealander of the Year by Metro magazine, was awarded an honorary doctorate by AUT in 2006 and became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007.
Amid all these endeavours, he never lost his love of wine, which was nurtured from 20 years of travelling the world on business and sampling the best of food and wine.
In 1997 he established Sileni Estates in Hawke’s Bay, with highly regarded winemaker Grant Edmonds. Their aim was to produce food-friendly wines that achieved acclaim in world markets.
"Sir Graeme led the way in food tourism. His contribution has made Hawkes Bay the model," says food writer Lauraine Jacobs.
True to character, Sir Graeme has told media he won't be forcing his friends and family to give him a 'Sir' title.
Four knights, three dames
Along with Sir Graeme, three others were made Knights of the Members of the NZ Order of Merit. They were:
- Richard John Hayes, MNZM, of Te Anau, for services to Search and Rescue and the community.
- Dr John Antony Hood, of Shipton Under Wychwood, UK, for services to tertiary education.
- Robert John Stewart, ONZM, of Christchurch, for services to manufacturing and the community.
Three Dames were appointed to the order:
- The Honourable Susan Gwynfa Mary Glazebrook, of Wellington, for services to the judiciary.
- The Honourable Lowell Patria Goddard, QC, of Wellington, for services to the law.
- Ms Patricia Lee Reddy, of Wellington, for services to the arts and business.
Sir Ron joins Order of New Zealand
Elsewhere on the Queen's Birthday list, retired engineer and businessman Sir Ron Carter was appointment to the Order of New Zealand for services to his country.
The order of NZ — our country's top honour — is limited to a maximum of 20 living people. Currently there are 17.
Sir Ron was knighted for services to engineering in 1998.
He is best known for his chairmanship of Beca, a company that was tiny when he joined in 1959. Beca became a major engineering force with its involvement in projects such as the Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter, the Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill, and the Sky Tower. Sir Ron also setup Beca's operations in Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia.
Sir Ron served on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch earthquakes, chaired the Committee for Auckland which laid the groundwork for the creation of the amalgamated Auckland Council and was the founding chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority from 1992 until 1998 and an Air New Zealand director until 2007.
Sir Ron has been honoured joined the Order of NZ today for his contributions to regional and national infrastructure planning, governance, business and education.
Here's the bird call
Recently retired RNZ Morning Report co-host Geoff Robinson and All Blacks manager Darren Shand and new Families Commission board member Haami Piripi feature in the Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) list.
Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) include basketballer Dillon Boucher, The Little Yellow Digger author Betty Gilderdale, softball player and coach Eddie Kohlhase, national lawn bowls rep Jo Edwards and policeman Gary Lendrum who has headed many high profile homicide and serious crime investigations.