Tomorrow the Olympic Games open. We’ll all be hoping our athletes do well and celebrating their success.
Today the NBR publishes its Rich List and the success it represents is less likely to be celebrated.
After more than a quarter of a century, the NBR Rich List 2012 still draws a variety of strong reactions, many of them negative.
My description last year that we should treat those successful in business as “national treasures” was especially controversial.
It would appear many New Zealanders – probably even a majority – object to wealth, even though by world standards this country’s levels of prosperity are modest indeed…
Few are wealthy because of luck, most earn it. Financial fitness is at least as much a result of ability and hard work as physical fitness.
This year’s list shows that investments in property and natural resources have paid off:
Those who have invested in natural resources or high-growth companies have seen their wealth increase dramatically, while those in the more traditional sectors have found the value of their businesses drop or remain static in a world still in the grip of subdued consumer spending. . .
The list also introduces an international section in recognition of the globalisation of wealth:
These new members have invested parts of the their fortunes in New Zealand or have substantial assets that give them residency rights.
The assets are both for business and pleasure.
To these we have added some of the richer New Zealand-born expatriates, who have created billion-dollar fortunes overseas and do not have this country as their primary residence. . .
At least some of this will count as foreign investment to which the xenophobes show such antipathy.
But New Zealand is richer because of the inward investment and also through the philanthropic activities of the investors.
These people don’t seek medals. But just as watching elite athletes might encourage the less active amongst us to exercise more, financially successfully people can be role models who provide positive examples and their achievements should be celebrated.