Sir Douglas Myers, the long-time chief executive of Lion Breweries and Lion Nathan, has passed away. He was 78.
Myers was one of New Zealand’s most prominent businessmen, having worked his way up through Lion Nathan to build a personal fortune estimated to be worth $900 million.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer and spent much of his later life fighting the disease. In 2013, he revealed that the cancer had returned fiercely. Doctors told him he had only a matter of months to live.
He exceeded the expectations, but sadly it was just delayed.
MP Paul Goldsmith, who co-authored a biography, The Myers, said Myers was passionately committed to improving the country’s economic performance for the good of all Kiwis.
Myers devoted much of his time to supporting the reforms begun in 1984 by the Fourth Labour Government.
Myers said: “I realised that gaining personal satisfaction was dependent on living in a place where everyone could get satisfaction. In a large country, like Brazil, it is possible to tolerate extremes in living standards. Not so in New Zealand. It’s too small; relationships are too intense. So I was convinced that everyone had to strive to be better, to be more productive, so the whole community moved forward. It’s not good enough to live in a beautiful country.
“That’s why you’ve got to kick against the pricks, and get off your chuff and do something. The main beneficiary of the [New Zealand economic reforms of the 1980s], as I saw it, was the average Kiwi.”
Myers was a staunch and consistent advocate for improving New Zealand’s economic performance.
Myers was also a philanthropist, setting up the Sir Douglas Myers Scholarship which awards Year 13 students $100,000 to study at Cambridge University.
He also gave millions of dollars to Auckland University’s Kenneth Myers Arts Centre, and supported the university’s Business School.
My thoughts are with his family and close friends.
UPDATE: A nice piece on him by Jane Phare in the Herald.