Entrepreneur and Antarctic champion dies

ENGAGING: Paul Hargreaves, ONZM, in Antarctica. He died on August 14 after a massive stroke, age 75.
ENGAGING: Paul Hargreaves, ONZM, in Antarctica. He died on August 14 after a massive stroke, age 75.

Cantabrian Paul Hargreaves left a mark on New Zealand few could hope for but many households would not recognise his name. 

Even at the end, he fought on.

Wife Anne Hargreaves said Paul, a cancer survivor, suffered a massive stroke on Monday and died three days later. 

Paul Hargreaves, a former Christ College pupil, was best known for his work in the technology and business sector. He had nothing in his back pocket but a brilliant idea when he and Bernard Battersby risked it all setting up a small computer bureau in Christchurch the 1960s. 

That small enterprise grew to become one of New Zealand's great success stories, Datacom - one of the largest locally-owned IT service providers in the Asia-Pacific region. 

While his success in business and technology often took centre stage, Hargreaves' achievements went beyond the board room. In 1991, he was asked to join the establishment board of the new National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and ended up becoming chief executive. 

These, Anne Hargreaves said, were some of the most meaningful and fulfilling years of his life despite having no background in science.

After NIWA, Paul Hargreaves became involved in Antarctica New Zealand and the icy continent became one of his greatest passions. 

He was appointed chairman in 2003 and among his achievements was the establishment of the Hilary Field Centre and a windfarm at Scott Base and a new research laboratory on Ross Island. 

He even had a mountain - Hargreaves Peak - named after him. 

His oldest friend, Michael Horton, said Hargreaves' association with Antarctica started when he was 17, and was chosen as a sea cadet HMNZS Endeavour to the continent in the 1956 when Scott Base was first established.He was diagnosed with cancer of the tail of the pancreas in 2006. Doctors said he had no hope for survival.

Hargreaves signed up for a new drug trial, which worked, paving the way for a surgery which would save his life. 

Not one to let cancer get in his way, he flew to Antarctica with Sir Edmund Hilary and Helen Clark in 2007 while waiting for his life-saving operation. It was one of many trips south he made over the years. Anne Hargreaves said Hilary and her husband happened to share a family doctor, who accompanied the men on the flight down. 

''His doctor said, once he camped out on the ice with Paul, he knew he would survive,'' she said. 

He returned to New Zealand for his operation and lived to enjoy another seven years with his friends and family.Horton, who will give the eulogy at Paul's funeral on Tuesday, said he had a knack for putting people at ease. 

''He was a very well-educated person with an enormous ability to engage with people,'' Horton said. ''He was an elegant fellow who could talk to anyone.''Despite being 75 when he died, Paul Hargreaves had never really retired. 

In 2006, he was made an Officer of the Order of Merit for services to business and community. 

He was a board member for Shine (Preventing Violence in the Home), a director of Radio New Zealand and a founder of the Gastro-Intestinal Cancer Institute.

The Press