Sir Wilson Whineray a business giant

Sir Wilson Whineray

Former All Black captain Sir Wilson Whineray's greatest contribution to New Zealand, it could be argued, did not come from his achievements on the rugby field.

Sir Wilson, who died on Monday aged 77, is often labelled the best-ever All Black captain, but his accomplishments in the business world were far-reaching and should not be understated.

He obtained a diploma of valuation and farm management from Lincoln College in 1957 and a bachelor of commerce from Auckland University in 1964.

After representing New Zealand's rugby team from 1957-65, he attended Harvard University and gained an MBA.

After jobs with the State Advances Corporation and Dominion Breweries, he joined Alex Harvey Industries in 1969.

It merged with Carter Holt Holdings in 1985 to become Carter Holt Harvey.

Sir Wilson became the company's deputy managing director in 1987 and stepped down in 1993 to become chairman, retiring from that post in 2003.

He was the managing director of the NZ Wool Marketing Corporation between 1973-74 and also served on the boards of Auckland International Airport, APN, Comalco, Nestle and Sedgwick Group.

He became the first chairman of PC Direct in 1996 and was appointed chairman of the National Bank in 1998.

Sir Wilson became chairman of the Hillary Commission in 1993, a position he held until 1998, and was knighted in 1998 for services to rugby and business. 

In 1994, he was tipped as the hot favourite to replace Governor-General Dame Cath Tizard when her term expired in 1995, but he would not let his name be put forward.

In 2004 he was rumoured again to be the front runner to replace Dame Silvia Cartwright as Governor-General.

Rugby writer Bob Howitt said: "It's no secret that had he allowed his name to go forward, he would have become the Governor-General of New Zealand."

In 2003, Sir Wilson was inducted into the NBR Business Hall of Fame. 

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Without question a top man.

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