Sir Graeme Avery 'still the same'

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 17:43 19/08/2014
Sir Graeme Avery
Peter Meecham / Fairfax Media

HONOURED: Sir Graeme Avery, pictured with Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae Sir Jerry Mateparae, today became a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

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Graeme Avery insists he is "just the same plain old Graeme" - even though he now officially has a "Sir" in front.

The Hawke's Bay winemaker, athlete and publisher today became a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and sport. 

He received the top honour alongside 13 other New Zealanders recognised by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae at today's investiture ceremony at Government House in Auckland for their work in communities.

Sir Graeme said: "It's very humbling. You know what you achieve in life and give to others and you don't seek recognition. But those who have supported you over the years do want to see it, and it's as much for family, friends, workmates and all those who have supported me in community activities."

A man with many strings to his bow, Sir Graeme founded Adis International, a medical publishing company he started from scratch in 1963.

In 1997 he turned to wine, founding Sileni Wine Estates with Grant Edmonds, of which he is the current president and chief executive.

Sileni has grown to be one of New Zealand's top 10 wine producers by volume, exporting to nearly 80 countries.

Sir Graeme lives in Hastings and his contributions to the Hawke's Bay region include helping to launch the "Hawke's Bay Wine Country" brand, Food Hawke's Bay and the Hawke's Bay Farmers Market. 

He was also chairman of the New Zealand Food and Wine Tourism Network and since 2009, Sir Graeme has served as chairman of the AUT Millennium Ownership Trust.

He and AUT partnered to build the $30 million Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, an elite sport and fitness academy for top athletes.

Sir Graeme struggled to pick just one highlight from his numerous careers.

"There's been a lot of things, really. It's just an accumulation as it goes on and each highlight is a stimulus to the next."

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