Otago business pioneers in Hall of Fame

Two Otago business pioneers were inducted into the Business Hall of Fame last night.

Sir George Fenwick (1847 – 1929) and Shariffe Coory (1866 – 1950) were given posthumus awards.

Previously, the hall of fame had only a virtual presence, but yesterday its new home on a 12m wall at the Owen G Glenn building at the University of Auckland was officially unveiled, followed by a gala dinner hosted by Governor-General Anand Satyanand.

The Coorys were among the first Lebanese to emigrate to Australia where they employed 1500 people in their wholesale and manufacturing business before selling and moving to Dunedin in 1892.

One of Mrs Coory’s great gransons, Malcolm Farry said that she she worked hard to break down barriers and did philanthropic work with the Lebanese community. She set up a workshop where Lebanese women made shirts and aprons for hawkers to sell; and also invested in property.

One of her greatest gifts was passing on her belief in entrepreneurship and “she had a significant influence on her grandchildren”, he said.

Her success is even more notable given that female entrepreneurship was even more of an achievement in her day.

Sir George came to Otago with his family in 1856 and took up a printing apprenticeship with The Otago Witness when he was 12. He later joined the Otago Daily Times and eventually owned both papers.

He edited the ODT from 1890-1909.co-founded the New Zealand Press Association in 1878; founded the Otago SPCA in 1882, the first in the country and was knighted in 1919.

The Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by Fairfax Media,  is a good way to recognise business success which doesn’t usually get the same recognition as sporting and artistic achievements.

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