Art and science patron wins top Māori business award

01 May 2012

Art and science patron Chris Mace (Ngāti Porou, Te-Whānau-ā-Apānui) has been named winner of the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori Business Leaders premier award for 2011 – the first in the event’s history to specifically honour artistic and scientific endeavour.

The Auckland-based businessman, who started his career with his family construction firm, is – with his wife Dayle – a well-known art patron who has been a longstanding supporter of both the visual arts and theatre communities for many decades.

He is also deeply involved in fisheries and marine science, having played a major part in establishing The University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Centre and chairing the Crown Research Institute (ESR), the New Zealand Antarctic Institute and the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

The University of Auckland Business School’s Associate Dean of Māori and Pacific Development, Associate Professor Manuka Henare, says art appreciation and scientific support are two of the attributes of Māori leadership that the Business School looks for when selecting winners of the annual awards, which welcomes the BNZ as major sponsor for the first time.

“I am particularly pleased this year to honour Chris, who has combined business success with art appreciation and scientific support to make a distinctive mark on both the history and future of New Zealand,” Dr Henare says.

“It is particularly poignant to announce Chris as the winner this year, with the tandem announcement that the BNZ will become a major sponsor of the awards from this year onwards. The bank is very well-known for its philanthropic support of causes such as literature and saving New Zealand’s endangered wildlife, which fits well with some of Chris’ special achievements.”

Made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 2004 for services to Antarctica and the community, Mr Mace built up his wealth in the 1980s with property company Mace Developments, which later became part of Lion Corporation, and culminated in him becoming a director and principal of one of Australasia’s largest companies.

Appointed chairman of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in 2009, Mr Mace works closely with the tertiary sector with a particular focus on marine science and research.

He was the Head of Patrons for the New Zealand Venice Biennale in 2009, and together with his wife is the major donor of the Walters Prize, New Zealand’s most prestigious art award.

Mr Mace says the diverse range of sporting and community interests and government assignments have provided him with an extra dimension to his business career, as well as a valuable insight into the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead.

Held by the Business School each year, previous supreme award winners of the awards have included Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Howard Morrison, Peter Loughlin, Brent Hiirini Shepherd, Rob McLeod, Peter Cooper and Sir Ralph Norris.

Other winners for 2011 are:

  • Te Toi Ururoa Kelly Scholarships to Jesse Pene (Ngāti Whātua) and Jarrod Griffin (Te Rarawa).
  • Māori Business Recognition Award to Ngāti Whātua o Ōrakei Māori Trust Board.
  • Dame Mira Szászy Māori Alumni Award to Kiri Dell (Ngāti Porou), Ngaroimata Reid (Ngātiwai, Te Aupouri, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitane), Jack Kimura (Ngāti Apakura, Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato) and Leon Wijohn (Te Rarawa, Ngāi Tuhoe, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa).