Army veteran wins leadership award

A long-serving army officer, who set up the country’s leading rental equipment company, is to be honoured by the University of Waikato for his entrepreneurial talents and leadership.

Former prime minister Jim Bolger, the chancellor of the university, will present Lt Col Tenby Powel with a Distinguished Alumni Award on August 27.

Lt Col Powell, whose military service includes a tour of duty with UN peacekeeping forces in the Middle East, is a director of Hunter Powell Investments, and the entrepreneurial force behind the success of the New Zealand Rental Group – a rental equipment leader with 84 business units across the country.

Lt Col Powell has most recently been in the news as a suggested candidate for the mayoralty of the new Auckland supercity.

The university’s vice-chancellor, professor Roy Crawford, who will be co-hosting the awards’ ceremony with Mr Bolger, said Lt Col Powell’s outstanding leadership qualities make him truly a distinguished alumnus of the University of Waikato.

“Lt Col Tenby Powell’s stellar achievements, spanning the business sector and the military, have made a substantial contribution to New Zealand through wealth and job creation,” he said.

Lt Col Powell, who recently completed the advanced management programme at Harvard business school, graduated from the University of Waikato with a bachelors degree in 1987, and since held senior management positions at Fletcher Challenge and the Skellerup Group Ltd, which later became Viking Pacific Group.

He set up his own company Hunter Powell Investments in 1998, and through a series of acquisitions, new branch developments and alliance partnerships created the New Zealand Rental Group.

It is now the country’s leading rental equipment provider, including cornerstone business Hirepool together with Port-a-Loo, Henderson Rentals, Rhodes Rentals, Barricading Solutions and Hirepool Access.

His military service in the New Zealand Army regular and reserve forces spans 27 years, including a posting as deputy commander of a UN mission in Lebanon in 2001-2002.

Lt Col Powell, who currently serves on the board of Antarctica New Zealand, and co-chaired the 2009 Entrepreneurial Summit, recently announced his candidacy for the Auckland city council elections.

The university’s Distinguished Alumni Awards are made each year to no more than three people, who have made an outstanding contribution to their profession, to the community, to the arts or sport since graduation from Waikato University.

Past recipients have included Solomon Islands prime minister Dr Derek Sikua and the head of the New Zealand Defence Force Lt Gen Jerry Mateparae.
The other two recipients this year are Kiwibank founder Sam Knowles and Dr Craig Nevill-Manning, founder and director of Google’s software engineering centre in New York.