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Mar 09, 2018

New Zealand Business Leaders Recognised for their Life Long Contribution

Nine New Zealand entrepreneurs have been announced today as inductees for the 2018 Business Hall of Fame. Amphibious vehicles, precision electromagnets, fashion design and a good night’s sleep are just some of the results from the business ventures of this year's laureates.

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Their induction is a prestigious acknowledgement for their contributions to the social and economic development of New Zealand through tales of enterprise, hard work and philanthropy.

Sir Eion Edgar, NZBHF Laureate and Head of the Selection Panel says “The contribution that these individuals have made to NZ is significant. It is vital that we recognise our past entrepreneurs and record their stories” 

 Living Laureates: 
  • Bill Buckley, CNZM
  • Dame Trelise Cooper, DNZM
  • Alan Gibbs
  • Graeme & Craig Turner
Posthumous Laureates:
  • James Dilworth (1815-1894)
  • Elspeth Kennedy, QSO, MBE (1931-2017)
  • Tony Nightingale (1939-2003)
  • Sir Russell Matthews, OBE (1896-1987)


Tony Nightingale was an innovator, taking the Resene company multinational, introducing new products, processes and colour systems.  Resen Paints has built a reputation as New Zealand’s colour leader and continues to develop new technologies today under the leadership of Tony’s son Nick Nightingale.


Bill Buckley is founder of Buckley Systems Limited (BSL), the world’s leading supplier of precision electromagnets used in the manufacture of more than 90% of the world’s silicon chips. BSL’s range of products are used in medical photon therapy – systems that will revolutionise cancer treatments of the future.


Dame Trelise Cooper established her iconic fashion design business in the early 1980s with her first boutique opening in 1985. The Trelise Cooper brand is recognised by magazines such as Vogue and Marie Claire, with styles worn by many international celebrities. Dame Trelise is a generous patron and volunteer for a variety of causes.


Alan Gibbs is one of New Zealand's most successful entrepreneurs and inventors , developing 11 different automobiles and has more than 50 patents in his name.  Gibbs also established the internationally acclaimed “Gibbs Farm” in Kaipara - the world’s largest outdoor sculpture park.


Brothers Graeme and Craig are the third generation of Turners to run Sleepyhead. Their father, Uncle and Grandfather saw the potential of a business that made natural seed fibre mattresses from a small factory in Auckland 80 years ago. One of NZ’s most trusted brands, the majority of Kiwis now sleep on a Sleepyhead bed.


Born in Ireland in 1815, James Dilworth was a successful businessman, accumulating significant wealth through his various interests. James bequeathed the bulk of his estate to establish Dilworth School - the endowment which funds the scholarships for low-decile students has grown to a level of $550 million.


Elspeth Kennedy lead a ground-breaking career not only the first woman to become a member of the New Zealand stock exchange, but also the first woman to run her own broking business. She then dedicated her life to her involvement in hospice, including more than 15 years as the chairwoman of the Nelson Tasman Hospice Trust from 1998 to 2014. 


Sir Russell Matthews established Russell Matthews & Company – the firm becoming New Zealand's largest roading contractor, sealing more than 3000 kilometres of road from Whangarei to Invercargill.  Matthews became a knight bachelor in 1982 for services to horticulture and the community.


You can purchase tickets here.