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)

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