It is with great sadness that the family advises of the death of Graeme Lowe CNZM, QSM.
He passed away peacefully this afternoon at his Havelock North home in Hawke's Bay, surrounded by his wife Jenny, his son Andy, daughters Sarah, Kate and close family. He was 77.
Andy Lowe said, "We are deeply saddened by Dad's death, which comes after a 15-year battle with Parkinson's disease." "He lived his life to the full. We have lost a great husband, father, mentor and friend. He has touched the lives of so many, from all walks of life.
"We will remember him for his relentless energy and work ethic, his leadership, innovation, passion and the strong values he instilled in all of us which included giving back to the communities we work and live in. "To the very end Dad was inspirational in his strength and courage dealing with great pain and suffering. He will be greatly missed," he said. A pioneer of the modern meat industry, Graeme Lowe has led Lowe Corporation from its inception in 1964 and remained actively involved in the business.
"For the past three years he has been leading a paradigm shift in business thinking and innovation that will see his legacy live on," said Andy Lowe. Two weeks ago Graeme Lowe was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame, one of many national tributes to his contribution to industry over the past five decades.
During his 50-year career Mr Lowe has been credited with helping keep New Zealand's meat industry at the forefront of innovation and leading technologies worldwide. In his home region of Hawke's Bay, he has earned legendary status for his overwhelming philanthropy. He has given millions of dollars over the years to supporting the local community in art and culture, civic facilities, sport, health, education, conservation and youth development. These include 40 years of sponsoring Hawke's Bay Rugby and Central District Cricket, over 20 years as the principal sponsor of the Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust, the Graeme Lowe Stand at McLean Park in Napier and the Graeme Lowe Foundation supporting education and medical equipment and research.
Hawke's Bay business and community leader Kevin Atkinson said Graeme Lowe has been the region's greatest contributor.
"As an individual, Graeme has given more to Hawke's Bay than any other person in our community. Young and old, everyone across the region has benefited from his overwhelming generosity.
"His years of support towards the growth and prosperity of this region, its economy and the local community will be forever cemented in the history of Hawke's Bay
He was a visionary leader, ahead of his time, who is leaving an indelible mark on New Zealand's agricultural export industry.
"He has provided hundreds of jobs locally, helped save the lives of many by way of his support of the recue helicopter service, he was instrumental in resurrecting Hawke's Bay Rugby and its ongoing success today, and he has helped the region to build many assets, that would never be possible without people like him.
"I have known Graeme for many years and today we have lost one of the region's true legends," he said.
Born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Graeme Lowe arrived in New Zealand at age 23. He began his legendary rise in the meat industry in 1964, purchasing Dawn Meat Ltd in Hastings, with two partners.
His rich combination of imagination, practicality, entrepreneurial flair and vision saw him develop these small beginnings into a thriving company where he built more meat processing plants than any other individual in New Zealand.
He became the driving force behind many processing and technology innovations including building the first single-storied, low-cost meat plant and the commercial use of low temperature rendering. He also built the first EU licenced hot-boning plant in the world. Today, hot-boning technology saves the New Zealand meat industry hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
During the late 70s, Graeme Lowe earned a reputation as the "godfather" of the meat industry for what many consider his most significant contribution to business when he successfully led a six-year deregulation battle. This was the first of the major deregulations and led ultimately to the deregulation of the whole New Zealand economy.
A major employer, at full capacity Lowe Corporation provided jobs to over 1500 people across the country.
After selling his meat processing plants in 1998, Graeme continued to operate companies associated with the meat industry in tanning and rendering. Lowe Corporation is now the largest privately owned by-product processor of hides, pelts and protein recycling in New Zealand and at the peak of the season employs 400 people. The company has interests in other agri-business companies, property and farming assets.
Graeme Lowe is survived by his wife Jenny, their children Andy, Sarah and Kate and his seven grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements will be published once confirmed.
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