NBR Rich List 2015: Wealth creators shine brightly amid economic prosperity

PLUS: The Top 10, The biggest movers.   Duncan Bridgeman, University of Auckland's Susan St John and Philanthropy NZ CEO, Liz Gibbs break down this year's Rich List on NBR Radio and on-demand on MyNBR Radio.

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Putting a figure on private wealth is never easy, especially since New Zealanders don’t tend to flaunt their wealth.

But there’s no question that the past few years have been good ones for the country’s wealthy, and for entrepreneurs and investors who are prepared to risk their capital for financial reward.

This year’s NBR Rich List reveals sizeable gains in personal and family fortunes over the past 12 months.  

New riches have been amassed, much of it self-made from creating businesses that employ thousands of people here and overseas.

The rampant property market is also responsible for the surge in private wealth, while a bigger, more diverse local sharemarket is giving business owners the opportunity to sell down and take profits.

This year the collective fortunes of 184 individuals and families total more than $55 billion, an increase of $3.8 billion on 2014.

This is the biggest proportional increase since the Rich List first appeared in 1986.

Back then, it started with 55 individuals and 12 families with a total minimum net worth of $5.3 billion.

Some of those originals still appear today – names like Brierley, Spencer, Jones and Heatley to name a few.

Many have fallen off the list or passed their wealth on to others. 

This year we celebrate 15 newcomers who have derived their wealth from many different sectors. These range from technology to farming, to hospitality and aged care and of course, property.

Two of them – Malcolm Dick and Annette Presley – make their return eight years after they last appeared, following the sale of Callplus for $250 million.

The Rich List follows four months of research by a team led by Vicki Jayne, who worked tirelessly pulling together the information.

When it came to drafting new entries, we started with a list of more than 30 names knowing that some wouldn’t make the $50 million threshold.

“It is hard to trace some of the wealth and some people don’t want to be on the list,” Ms Jayne says.

“But in many ways the actual money is not that important. It’s the stories behind it and the fact that these people have achieved a high level of success. You don’t get the money unless you achieve at a high level in the area you are functioning. It’s very unlike winning Lotto.”

Our estimates of personal wealth are conservative and are based mainly on publically available sources such as Company Office files, share registries, land and house valuations and newspaper clippings.

See the full NBR Rich List here

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