New Year Honours 2013
The Auckland suburb of Otara in the 1960s must have been a rough place. Sir Owen Glenn, knighted in the New Year honours list, spent 1964 and '65 there and says it convinced him his future did not lie in New Zealand.
He told the Sunday Star-Times [in December 2012]: "I saw firsthand some of the horrible things that go on, and it was what prompted me to leave the country."
So he did, going on to make his fortune in transport and logistics, building up a multinational firm, OTS Logistics, before selling out a year ago.
But he always wanted to return to New Zealand and has used some of his considerable wealth on good causes, often focused on Otara.
His latest project, to which he has pledged $80 million, is focused on preventing child abuse and family violence.
Part of the plan is to form a think tank to report in early 2014 on ways to improve the country's poor record on family violence.
Having tried to get the Government to engage a royal commission, without success, "being a citizen in a democracy I just said ‘Well, I'll do it'. So I'm financing it 100 per cent and I'm very passionate about this, these are people who can't defend themselves.
"I just feel our appalling statistics show we're not on top of this problem.
"It's getting worse, so I'm doing my bit to draw attention to it across the board at all levels."
Hence his appointment as KNZM for services to philanthropy, adding to the ONZM he was awarded for services to business and the community in 2008.
"The ONZM they awarded me in 2008, the Government and people of New Zealand, that was a great thrill, that was Buckingham Palace and Prince Charles . . .
"I thought that was it, the apex of my life, then this came out of the blue and I thought ‘Wow'."
Glenn described the accolade as "a thrill".
"I don't take it lightly and I will respect it.
"I hope to promote New Zealand's interests through this wonderful recognition."
Speaking from Sydney, Glenn said he plans to return to New Zealand on January 20 and will spend the next six months here working on his various projects.
His 34-metre yacht Ubiquitous will also be in the country to help charity fundraising projects.
- © Fairfax NZ News