In this week's print edition

The Rich List 2006 Supplement

Property Investors trump NBR Rich List 2006

The 21st edition of the National Business Review Rich List 2006, published on Friday, July 21, reveals property has been a major wealth-builder this year.

More than 40 Rich List entrants made their fortunes in property development and most recorded increases in wealth over the past 12 months.

New property developers on the Rich List this year include Tauranga MP Bob “the builder” Clarkson, who clocks in at $30 million. The tyro politician remained tight-lipped about his business interests despite a roaring campaign on the political trail last year.

Another property newcomer is eligible bachelor Simon Henry, who enters the Rich List at a staggering $70 million after building a strong commercial property portfolio in the country’s main centres.

Other property identities marked a noticeable increase in their wealth, including Auckland Viaduct apartment developer Nigel McKenna, who was up from $75 million in 2005 to $100 million this year, and the Goodman family of Macquarie Goodman fame, who debut in the billionaires’ club this year at $1.5 billion.

NBR editor in chief Nevil Gibson said the main centres of property investment were Auckland and Wellington, with Queenstown featuring for its lifestyle attractions. “The Rich Listers are usually ahead of the pack and have bought in the best locations before anyone else,” he said.

There are 222 entrants in this year’s NBR Rich List with a collective wealth of $35.1 billion, a $3.7 billion increase on last year. “It’s been a year of consolidation,” Mr Gibson said. “While property has been the biggest contributor to overall wealth, there have also been some spectacular business deals, such as the sales of the Trade Me website and the Kathmandu retail chain.”

The 21 newcomers include Trade Me founder Sam Morgan, who brings eight other investors with him; reality television queen Julie Christie; high-tech crystal manufacturers the Robinson family of stockmarket darling Rakon; agribusiness dealmaker Craig Norgate; baby photographer Anne Geddes; and gymnasium king Phillip Mills.

The Higgins family of Palmerston North also make the NBR Rich List for the first time, having avoided the spotlight for many years. Their civil contracting business was founded in 1958 and is now chaired by Pat Higgins, who was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in last year’s Queen’s Birthday honours. The Higgins also have extensive property interests in the Manawatu region.

Some interesting stories from 21 years of the Rich List include Inland Revenue deciding in 2004 to investigate the 100 wealthiest New Zealanders using the NBR Rich List; naming New Zealand’s first individual billionaire, Graeme Hart in 2002; the Complaints Review Tribunal ruling the NBR Rich List was a matter of legitimate public concern and a news activity after a complaint in 1997.

The Rich List was first published in 1986 by NBR’s then sister publication Personal Investor and was taken over by NBR in 1990. In 1986, the lowest entry was $5 million for the Adams family, of Ernest Adams fame. The threshold was quickly raised to $16 million in 1987 and $20 million in 1988, remaining there until 2004 when it was raised to $25 million.

John Spencer of the Caxton paper empire was the early leader, topping the list from 1986-88 with $650 million. Douglas Myers took over in 1990 after Sir Robert Jones topped the list in 1989 with $320 million. Mr Myers topped the list for a total of 10 years (1990-1993, 1995-2001), a run only broken by Douglas Goodfellow, who topped the list in 1994 with $290 million before putting most of his wealth in charitable trusts.

Graeme Hart shot to the top of the list in 2002 and remained there for three years until ex-pat brothers Richard and Christopher Chandler came from nowhere to top last year’s list at a combined wealth of $4 billion.

The Todd family has consistently been New Zealand’s wealthiest family and had the highest overall wealth listing every year but two. Nine individuals or families have been on the list every year since 1986: Sir Ron Brierley; Michael Fay and David Richwhite; Michael Friedlander; Craig Heatley; Sir Patrick Hogan; Sir Robert (Bob) Jones; Paykel family and John Spencer.

Watch Nevil Gibson's interview on TVNZ about the Rich List.

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