NBR Rich List 2012: Property boom puts fortunes back on track

Alexander Abramov, Rod Drury, James Cameron

The NBR Rich Lists 2012 reflects some of the trends in such lists worldwide.

Those who have invested in natural resources or high-growth companies have seen their wealth increase dramatically, while those in the more traditional sectors have found the value of their businesses drop or remain static in a world still in the grip of subdued consumer spending.

This two-speed list was highlighted in Australia, where Gina Rinehart’s mining fortunes rose by a staggering $A19 billion. This took her to the title of “world’s richest woman”, displacing Sam Walton’s daughter Christy.

Mrs Rinehart’s fortune is growing at something like a million dollars every 30 minutes, based on current iron ore prices. If she was excluded from this year’s Australian Rich List, the total value of all the others would have fallen.

No New Zealand Rich Lister has access to the mineral wealth of Australia and, consequently, fortunes have risen and fallen in more modest amounts.

Even so, this year’s list contains some major movements, mainly through rises in property values. The Goodman family, which controls commercial property both here and in Australia, has jumped by $100 million, while Sir Robert Jones and Auckland’s Manson family are not far behind.

Two immigrant property owners, the Pandey brothers and the Jhunjhunwala family, are the only New Zealand-based newcomers.

Expatriate billionaire investment company owner Richard Chandler did better than anyone, with his wealth rising a whopping $1 billion to $5 billion based on his exposure to high-growth emerging markets.

By contrast, the country’s richest businessman, Graeme Hart, has seen his global empire shrink in value despite more takeovers.

The biggest loser was Canterbury’s George Kerr, whose high-profile investment company, Pyne Gould Corporation, plummeted in value.

The list farewells one of the country’s most-admired businessmen, Lloyd Morrison, who succumbed in February to leukaemia after being diagnosed in 2009.

In a double blow to the family, his uncle, Hugh Morrison, a co-founder and director of the HRL Morrison investment company that managed Infratil, died this month.

Last year, Lloyd Morrison was valued at $100 million.

Also passing on in the past year was Auckland businessman Hugh Green, who died at 80 as the list was in its final stage of completion.

Entrepreneur Craig Heatley, a founder of Sky Network TV and the youngest Rich Lister when it was first issued in 1986, has also bowed out after changes in his personal financial affairs.

He told us his wealth, previously listed at $220 million, is in independently managed Heatley family trusts that are “now mostly passive equity investors in real estate, stocks, bonds and private equity”. 

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11 Comments & Questions

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Yawn. Why an earth anyone thinks these 'rich lists' are of any interesrest and relevance is beyond me. So what?


Sorry but you won't get on the rich list with spelling like that, not to mention your inbred kiwi attitude.

Have a nice day.


I think the stories are interesting - perhaps one of them would like this scheme which might be be good for Chch - a place needing rich listers and good ideas before the Govt and CCC stuff the place forever



Well given rich list stories are the top five most read on the site there are obviously some people interested...


Good response love it!


there all a bunch of rip-off artists, you cant make that much money honestly.


“There”!!!! Honestly, try again. The reason for the wealth gap is clearly evident.


Despite what Mr Gibson thinks, these people are not national treasures. There is nothing altruistic about their business motives. For many it's about profit and often an insatiable need to grow the pile, something that is applauded and venerated by rags like this in these strange times. I wonder how many dare share their profits with the people they employ to do the actual hard work? Very few, if any, I suspect. The national treasures in NZ are the men and women who toil with little recognition in ordinary, often modestly and poorly paid jobs and without whose commitment and sacrifice these people you place on a pedestal would not be rich, and without whom NZ would not function.


The envious comments of these boneheads is precisely why we have so many people in this country with no aspirations and who see nothing better than to criticise those who have achieved. This is the same attitude which prompted the previous finance minister to call the Prime Minister a "rich prick" just pure jealousy. Trouble is that National was silly enough to go and give the man who squandered billions of dollars in surpluses a knighthood. Neville Gibson is correct the successes of these rich listers should be celebrated


Agreed. We should celebrate business success but probably not too much its byproduct (lucre) given the widening income gap in our society and the well-known dangers of having too much money. Some more in-depth profiles of some of those listed about how they got started and what they've learned in business, including the perils and pitfalls of their types of business would be welcome. Good job, though, Nevil. Cheers.


Call me a tall poppy killer, etc, but we have a very BORING rich list.


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