New Year Honours: Sir Julian Smith

Knight Companion of the NZ Order of Merit, for services to business.

Sir Julian Smith, here with Lady Beverly, says he is proud to continue to live and work in Dunedin.  Photo / APN
Sir Julian Smith, here with Lady Beverly, says he is proud to continue to live and work in Dunedin. Photo / APN

Dunedin's Julian Smith says his knighthood recognises his forebears' efforts as well as his own.

The chairman and managing director of Otago Daily Times publisher Allied Press and his brother Nick, an Allied Press director, are the fifth generation of their family to serve in the newspaper industry in Dunedin.

They are descendants of George Bell, who founded the Evening Independent in the city on January 22, 1869. Later that year Mr Bell combined the Independent and the Evening Star after buying the Star.

"I'm very pleased from the family point of view," Sir Julian, 69, said after deciding to accept his knighthood.

"We have been involved in newspapers and Dunedin for a long period of time and I am mindful that I would probably not have been in the position to do the things I have done if it wasn't for those who went before."

He is also grateful to his wife, Beverley, and his children, sons James and Richard - who have joined him in the family business at Allied Press - and daughter Joanna, for their support during his career.

Smith was born in Dunedin in 1943 and educated at John McGlashan College and the University of Otago.

He joined the Evening Star company board in 1974. When the Star and the Otago Daily Times merged in 1975 under the holding company Allied Press, Sir Julian became deputy chairman of the holding company, a director of the ODT, and chairman of the Evening Star.

With the merging in 1979 of Allied Press and Otago Press and Produce, of which he was general manager and a director, he became deputy chairman and group managing director. In 1986, Smith initiated a management buyout, thus privatising the company into local hands.

He continues to lead the company, and his controlling interest has ensured the Otago Daily Times and the company's other media investments (which include nine community newspapers from Canterbury to Southland, two regional television stations and a majority interest in the Greymouth Evening Star and associated titles) remain New Zealand-owned.

The ODT is the last independently owned metropolitan newspaper in New Zealand or Australia and Sir Julian is proud it continues to play a significant role in the region.

This includes not just its daily coverage of the South. Through his proprietorship, the company has had a policy of supporting the Otago province through business ties and in charitable ways.

The company, and Smith and the family, have been willing supporters of Dunedin and regional projects benefiting the community.

He is proud, too, to continue to live and work in Dunedin."I am humbled by the acknowledgment, but I do think it is good for the city and for the region for people from Dunedin to be recognised in such a way."

Smith is the fourth ODT executive to be knighted. The newspaper's first editor, Sir Julius Vogel, former managing director and editor Sir George Fenwick and former editor Sir James Hutchison were all honoured.

Sir Julian is the longest continually serving member of the governing body of the Newspaper Publishers' Association, being appointed to the national body in 1978 and continuing in the role for the past 33 years.

Sir Julian has been a president of the Otago Chamber of Commerce and the Otago Commerce Club, is a past chairman of the John McGlashan College Board and is currently Patron of the Otago Aero Club.

He was from 1999 until 2009 the Honorary Colonel of the 4th Otago-Southland Battalion Group, a volunteer army reserve unit, and has chaired the Otago Southland Territorial Forces Employer Support Council since 2005.

He was awarded a New Zealand 1990 Commemorative Medal, was made an OBE for services to business management and the community in 1994 and made a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Directors in 2009.

Smith is known to many as "JCS" Smith. He is in fact JS Smith - a fact unknown even to him until his early 20s when he first needed a passport. By then, though, the moniker "JCS" had stuck.

- Otago Daily Times

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