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Leading businessman Sir Ron Trotter dies

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Aug 11 NZPA - One of New Zealand's leading businessmen, Sir Ron Trotter, has died aged 82.

Sir Ron, who had cancer, personified big business in this country from the 1970s to the 1990s.

He was a vocal advocate of economic deregulation, having seen the light after lobbying the government for industry protection earlier in his working life.

In the late 1990s he told an interviewer that he felt he had made a worthwhile contribution economic reform.

Born in Hawera in October 1927, he was the son of the Hawera Farmers Co-op managing director. He was educated at the exclusive Wanganui Collegiate School, then went to Victoria University where he graduated with a commerce degree in 1947. In 1984 the university granted him an honorary doctoral degree in law.

He became a stock and station agent, then joined Wright Stephenson and Company Ltd as Hastings branch manager. He was brought to Wellington as Sir Clifford Plimmer's personal assistant, became managing director, then chairman.

He orchestrated a merger with the National Mortgage and Agency Co to form one of the country's largest companies, Challenge Corporation in the early 1970s.

In 1980 Challenge merged with Fletcher Holdings and Tasman Pulp and Paper, creating the country's biggest industrial group Fletcher Challenge.

Sir Ron was chairman and chief executive, finally retiring as chairman in 1995.

He was the first chairman of the New Zealand Business Roundtable in its present form, holding the position from 1985 to 1990.

Among his many other roles he was a director of the Reserve Bank, chairman of Telecom, and a chairman or director of several major New Zealand and Australian companies.

He was also chairman of the board of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and chaired the Steering Committee of the 1984 Economic Summit.

He was knighted in 1985 for his services to business.

"Ron was a terrific New Zealander, a giant among giants, a true patriot and the pre-eminent businessman of his era," New Zealand Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr told NZPA.

He was hugely respected by politicians from all political parties.

"The way I look at Ron is he was the leading figure to recognise after living with the old New Zealand that we were on a road to nowhere. We had to get out and firms like Fletcher Challenge had to internationalise."

Sir Ron lived in Wellington and along with his wife Lady Margaret was a big supporter of the arts.

BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said tributes would be paid to Sir Ron's leadership.

"Sir Ron played a pivotal part in the modernisation of New Zealand's economic direction during the 1980s and after, and all of us as New Zealanders have benefited from that leadership.

"He will be sadly missed by the business community."

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