Fran O'Sullivan

A columnist for the NZ Herald

New Year Honours: New knight fixed on making NZ competitive

Sir Douglas Myers. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Sir Douglas Myers. Photo / Herald on Sunday

It is probably about time Douglas Myers was made a knight - the media have been mistakenly giving him the title for years.

The 71-year-old former Lion Nathan head has been made a Knight Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for services to business and the community.

It was typical of Sir Doug that a call over his New Year honour quickly turned into a discussion on New Zealand's future.

He is concerned that New Zealand now has more post-graduates living overseas than Australia, with its five times more people. "We've just got to create an environment here where people want to stay here and live here and be part of New Zealand - and yet still be part of the world."

He also believes in the power of sporting success to lift the confidence of small countries. "I always felt that if New Zealanders could see how well we could do where we tried - even if it was sporting things - then they might feel, well, maybe we can do well in other things."

Sir Doug is the third male in his family to be awarded a knighthood.

Grandfather Sir Arthur Myers was a former Mayor of Auckland (1905-1909) before entering national politics and becoming a Cabinet minister.

His late father, Sir Kenneth Myers, focused on developing the family's brewing interests, which began in Auckland in the 1840s.

Sir Doug continued the family's interest in public life with his own leading role as chairman of the NZ Business Roundtable, where he led the drive to make New Zealand a more competitive and internationally focused nation.

In 2004, Sir Doug sponsored historian Michael Bassett and biographer Paul Goldsmith to write a Myers family biography so his three children, Jessica, Laura and Campbell, "could be inspired by the knowledge of their family's origins, lives and contributions to society".

Sir Doug later wrote, "What came through was an enterprising spirit and a good mix of commercial and more literary leanings".

This same driving ethos underpins much of his business career.

He is particularly proud of Lion Nathan, the Kiwi company he forged to become the top player in the Australasian brewing industry before selling out to Japan's Kirin Breweries in 1998.

"We're probably 'one of one' who went to Australia and got to the 'top of the pops ... Lion's done much better than Foster's. That from the business perspective is the best feeling ..."

Since retiring as chairman of Lion Nathan in late 2001, Sir Doug has concentrated on his own private portfolio, which includes substantial technology investments.

- NZ Herald

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