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RICH LIST 2014: Surfing this economic boom

It has been another good year for the country’s rich. From the high-tech fields of cloud computing to the great dairying plains of Canterbury and the Waikato, fortune favours the brave.

This year we celebrate our home-grown Rich Listers collectively passing $50 billion for the first time. Their combined wealth of $51.2 billion in 2014 is more than double that of the 2004 list, which came in at $22.3 billion, and is well up on last year’s $47.9 billion.

Add the small group of New Zealand-based international billionaires on the NBR Rich List and the figure swells to $63.3 billion.

Not only have the past few years been good for existing members, economic conditions have also been good for wealth creation.

This year we welcome 13 newcomers, following the 12 added last year.

The combined wealth of new entrants totalled $1.5 billion reflecting a range of different industries and investment.

There are one or two themes emerging, however, with the food sector in particular proving a lucrative place to invest. The world’s seemingly insatiable demand for our protein suggests this trend is not short-lived either.

Dairy farmers Jim van der Poel and the Turley family make the list, while Hawke’s Bay’s Craig Hickson and Nelson-based Tom Sturgess are deeply involved in the farming sector. Others have diversified their interests; Gavin Faull may be Taranaki’s biggest dairy farmer but he also runs an international hotel management company.

Technology is also a profitable sector for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Men like Ian McCrae, co-founder of Orion Healthcare, are leading innovators capturing the attention of a resurgent share market.

Xero founder Rod Drury saw his wealth skyrocket in 2013 before coming back down again in recent months in line with his company’s share price.

Property continues to be a solid and dependable avenue for wealth: Auckland developer Brett Russell, Hawke’s Bay’s Jonathan Wallace and National MP Ian McKelvie are added this year while Robert Jones managing director Greg Loveridge joins founder Sir Robert Jones on the list.

The absence of a capital gains tax is one reason for Kiwis’ preference for property but they also seem to share an emotional attachment to the land.

The retail sector has also been kind to those in the right area. EziBuy founders Peter and Gerard Gillespie, Burger Fuel baron Josef Roberts and Pak’nSave owner operator Paul Blackwell have succeeded through hard work and determination.

See the NBR Rich List 2014 here (premium member subscriber content)

More by Duncan Bridgeman

Comments and questions

And all the while the real people of this nation get crumbs. Roll on revolution.

"Let them eat cake".

Most of these people were "the little guys" once. But they have worked and fought for what they now own or control.

If you too want what they have built, sometimes over many years, Start digging!!

I've seen personally how hard people like Ian McCrae and Rod Drury have worked. They are incredible people who have a level of intensity and focus that has to be seen to be believed.

They've worked incredibly hard over a number of years to achieve their wealth, which is more of a by-product of their ambition and efforts to build great companies and products than the key objective (although no doubt it featured in there somewhere).

Along the way they've provided jobs for what would collectively amount to thousands of kiwis and through their efforts, have made a huge contribution to New Zealand's economy. Being export-driven, we all benefit from the money their companies bring into our economy as well as the millions paid in tax over the years as a result of their work (in PAYE of staff, income tax and GST).

Yet after all of this, the tall poppy trolls like you still come out and take cheap shots. One of these days you'll succeed in chasing our country's success stories out of town - then no doubt wonder why there are no jobs or money in your little utopia.

Congrats Rod and Ian - you've earned it.

Great to see people who put it all on the line succeed, but how long before we see public servants who put nothing up front, but are paid grossly over-inflated salaries on this list?

not too long - wait until the idiots vote Labour into power

With comments like this I don't think the idiots here are the ones voting Labour into power. Public service salaries were no different in scale under Labour than they are under National.

To all the men and women who reach these levels of achievement. Congratulations

funny isn't it that some of the most important people TO society wouldn't even get close. ie the guy that patches up the human brain after injury or the customs official that looks that little harder that particular day and detects something very bad for the economy. makes you wonder a little about the hard work and dedication comments above. .

Check out the think tank NEF's take on the "Value of Work" for a more accurate valuation of the contribution of different people to society.

Like you I find "hard work" comments a little difficult to stomach. My better half works in a profession that provides much more value to society than mine yet earns a fraction of what I do and would likely work much harder too.

The difference is she isn't motivated by money or deems it a measure of success so this notion of "lifters" and "leaners" is disingenuous at best.

Many of the HNW people (some of which are on this list) that I come across in my work don't seem particularly motivated by money either. It seems these tabulations are financial erotica for the wannabe upper-middle-classes.

To Rod Drury and the people on this list, thank you for your perseverance, energy and drive to make a difference. Be great if that list would triple in size.

How about the rich listers invest in the sporting future of New Zealand. Our commonwealth athletes have done well but it is a consistent challenge to balance training with survival.

If only some of this list were to invest in assisting the sporting disciplines.Think about what this could do for the country and the feel good factor. Come on step up.