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‘You can do exactly what I have done’

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Graeme Hart and his granddaughter Jemima Hawkesby introduced him when he was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame.photo/provided

by Lydia Lewis Royal New Zealand Airways

New Zealand’s richest man is encouraging the next generation of business leaders to take risks.

Graeme Hart, who has been reflecting on his series of leaps of faith throughout his 50-year career, is now No. 218 on Forbes’ 2022 Billionaires List.

The 67-year-old investor has a net worth of $9.7 billion. He is the richest man in New Zealand.

He was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame on Thursday 18 August 2022.

“It’s a real privilege to find yourself in a position after your career, you know, Greg Thomas, Ulu, myself, Les Mills, where you’re recognized for the Hall of Fame.

“These are careers spanning 40 to 50 years, and in the case of Beggs, much longer. So, yes, very proud.”

2022 Business Hall of Fame 2022 recipients:

• Bruce McLaren
• Charles and Jesse Berg
• Graeme Hart
• Greg Tomlinson
• Rice, Jackie and Philip Mills
• Pania Tyson-Nathan
• Uluomato’otua Aiono

Winners are inducted into the Business Hall of Fame in 2022. Photo/Lydia Lewis, RNZ  ‘You can do exactly what I have done’
Winners are inducted into the Business Hall of Fame in 2022. Photo/Lydia Lewis, RNZ

Hart, who left school at 16, says young people and young people can manage what he has achieved.

“I’m ready and willing to take risks, and it’s really important now.

“You can do exactly what I did.”

He said Hart’s father, now nearly 97, played a key role in getting him a small loan that in turn would multiply.

“The first problem was I didn’t have the money, okay. I could see what the opportunity was like, so sitting somewhere was my dad, so I went to my dad and borrowed $500, so I borrowed from my dad $500, then bless him with cotton socks and take me to his bank manager.”

Graeme Hart and his father at the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame celebration.photo/provided  ‘You can do exactly what I have done’
Graeme Hart and his father at the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame celebration.photo/provided

He said the bank manager gave him the other $2,000 he needed to move, and that was his trucking business.

In a career spanning 5 years, he has acquired and transformed some of New Zealand’s most iconic businesses such as Whitcoulls and Reynolds Packaging Group.

“There are more opportunities today and the world is growing. Capital markets are more complex,” Hart said.

Robyn Hart congratulates Graeme Hart at the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame Dinner. Photo/Lydia Lewis, RNZ  ‘You can do exactly what I have done’
Robyn Hart congratulates Graeme Hart at the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame Dinner. Photo/Lydia Lewis, RNZ

“My market is a bit like Auckland, New Zealand, but today anyone starting with tech in particular, the world is your oyster. In my time there was more competition, less competition, but the answer is that you can succeed today, no doubt about it.

“Here’s the thing, so I obviously don’t have the capital, I don’t have a formal education, I don’t have the experience, but when I reflect on my career, everything I have is in my DNA, it’s just a blessing to me Guess it’s from mom and dad.

“I have an absolute passion for business. I have a strong business acumen, so for me, that’s what I’m passionate about. I have a great work ethic and I have a strong desire to succeed, although I don’t have the I recognized that early on.”

“Take tough action”

Graeme Hart and his granddaughter Jamiema Hawksby.photo/provided  ‘You can do exactly what I have done’
Graeme Hart and his granddaughter Jamiema Hawksby.photo/provided

It’s still early days for Hart’s granddaughter Jamiema Hawksby.

The 18-year-old spoke to RNZ after her grandfather was selected.

“He’s very humble and passionate,” Hawksby said.

His achievement was her biggest concern — “It was definitely a tough move and it was very inspiring,” she said.

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