When the Goodman brothers - Patrick, Greg and Craig, sons of the renowned New Zealand food industrialist Sir Pat Goodman - left for bigger opportunities in Australia a decade ago, they flew cabin-class.

Now, they return in their private US$13.3 million ($18.7 million) 11-seater Learjet 60, bought less than a year ago.

And, in a neat twist of fate, they will shortly become landlords of Air New Zealand.

The airline's new HQ, being built at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour, was last month acquired by the family's A$5.3 billion ($5.6 billion) Macquarie Goodman Group, the property company formed from the merger of its original firm, Goodman Hardie, and the property vehicle of Australia's largest listed merchant bank, Macquarie.

Greg Goodman, 42, is chief executive of the giant and now presides over what is Australia's largest industrial landlord, and through their stake in the New Zealand vehicle - the $444 million Macquarie Goodman Property Trust - the family have one of this country's largest real estate holdings.

Craig Goodman, 39, is the firm's Asia-Pacific development director and Patrick Goodman, 43, is managing director of the family's investment company Goodman Holdings.

Australia's Business Review Weekly last year pegged the Goodmans' wealth at A$660 million and last year's National Business Review Rich List has the family at $750 million.

Their standing represents a continuation of a remarkable New Zealand business success story. Their father, Sir Patrick, turned a Motueka bakery outside Nelson into an international food business, Goodman Fielder Wattie, which they sold in the early 1990s.

They could have lived an easier life off their substantial wealth but a work ethic installed as children was too strong to ignore. Growing up on their Motueka farm near Nelson, the boys remember how their father and their mother, Lady Hilary, taught them the value of hard work. The boys mowed the lawns at the 40ha cattle farm and tended to the large vegetable garden that fed the three generations living on the property.

Patrick recalls that his father was away so often that they would often see him only at weekends.

"We were a big noise in a small town," remembers Craig of his youth in Motueka. "I spent a lot of time at the beach, white-baiting in the Motueka River and water-skiing at Kaiteriteri."

The boys went to St Peter Chanel School at Motueka, then they all boarded at St Patrick's College in Silverstream.

"You certainly developed your rugby skills there," Greg recalls, although he also admits to remembering strong feelings of homesickness.

"But it wasn't too bad because Mum and Dad were in Wellington a lot so we had weekends with them - the Goodman Group was then based in Wellington, so seeing them made it easier."

Greg, who led the charge into property, went to Massey University to study business and property but left with one paper to complete.

One of his first jobs in property was subdividing the family's Motueka property. In his 20s, he owned 10 houses. He moved to Sydney in 1985 already a wealthy man but with some aversion to debt.

Patrick studied commerce at Victoria University but left without graduating to join the Goodman food business in Wellington. Craig finished his arts degree in music and politics at Victoria and been drawn to greater opportunities in Sydney and specialised in buying industrial property, including Moorabbin Airport, in south Melbourne in the late 1990s.

By 2003, Goodman Fielder had been bought by New Zealand's richest man, Graeme Hart, for $2.2 billion, via his Australian food company, Burns Philp. Since the sell-off of Burns Philp's offshore assets last year, Goodman Fielder's Australasian operations account for almost all of Burns Philp's operations.

The family then expanded its land bank fast, primarily around Sydney's western suburbs.

"There was already expertise in property coming through the family via Greg and Dad felt it was time for him to move on from the food business," recalls Patrick of that shift.

In 1995, the family listed Goodman Hardie on the ASX - a A$75 million entity formed with with businessman Duncan Hardie, also formerly of Nelson.

That grew to such an extent that the Goodmans merged their industrial property holdings with the banker in 2000 to create Macquarie Goodman Industrial Trust whose manager was 20 per cent owned by the Goodmans. The banker had a 40 per cent stake and the rest was owned by investors via an ASX listing.

Since then, there has only been more growth - the A$600 million takeover of AMP Industrial Trust in 2002, the purchase of a $500 million portfolio from Commonwealth Property Office Fund in the same year and the merger of Macquarie Goodman Management and Macquarie Goodman Industrial Trust in February this year, which formed the Macquarie Goodman Group.


Sir Pat and Lady Hilary now divide their time between their farm at Sutton Forest near Bowral, south of Sydney, and the original family home at Motueka.

This and the family's Marlborough Sounds bach at Onehau Bay, near Picton, where as boys they swam, fished and water-skied, retain a strong influence over the brothers and they are often home.

Greg and his wife Anna are searching for a large coastal New South Wales farm that will double as his family's country get-away in Australia.

"The trouble here is getting a rural property with water," Greg explains from his offices at 60 Castlereagh St in the city's CBD, where he works alongside his two brothers.

Then there is the business here: Auckland-based Macquarie Goodman Property Trust, which last Friday declared a 118 per cent increase in profits on last year's results, making $17.7 million from its $541.8 million real estate portfolio.

The family's latest property play on this side of the Tasman is the acquisition of the 2500ha Glen Nevis sheep station near Kingston, Queenstown. Greg expects the land to eventually be rezoned for redevelopment.

The Goodmans also return to oversee extensive forestry interests around the lower North Island and in the Marlborough/Nelson region.

Patrick was in Queenstown this week to check property developments there for the family's company, including supervising an 18-lot lifestyle block subdivision near Queenstown at Glenorchy which the family bought a year ago. Sections there will sell for up to $800,000.

The three Goodman brothers have young families which they are raising in Sydney's more exclusive suburbs.

Patrick and Derryn live at affluent seaside Point Piper in the inner-east with Barnaby, 11, Oliver, 8, and Thomas, 5. Greg and Anna live at waterfront Mosman on the lower reaches of Sydney's North Shore with Joshua, 9, Sam, 7, and Harry, 5. Craig and Hilary live in old-money Woollahra in the eastern suburbs, 10 minutes from the CBD, with Richard, 5, Portia, 3, Sebastian, 2, and a baby due in July.

None plans a return permanently as opportunities across the Tasman remain so strong.

The future of the Macquarie Goodman Group is now Asia.

Macquarie Goodman Management plans to have a A$500 million real estate investment trust investing in Hong Kong and greater China listed by the end of this year.

The trust will be the first Hong Kong-listed one available to Australians to invest in Asian industrial properties.

What the Goodmans own

* A stake in the management and ownership of listed A$5.3 billion Macquarie Goodman Group, one of Australia's largest industrial landlords.
* A stake in the management and units of New Zealand's Macquarie Goodman Property Trust, which has real estate worth $541.8 million.
* Extensive cattle and sheep farm holdings in New Zealand.
* The 2500ha Glen Nevis Station, at Queenstown, with 7km of Lake Wakitipu foreshore.
* An 18-lot subdivision at Glenorchy near Queenstown.
* Forestry estates in Nelson/Marlborough and lower North Island regions.