Wine and arts make fine blend

By Roger Moroney

Te Mata estate founder and champion of the arts, John Buck, said being awarded a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit was "nice" - and while he had never set out to attain awards (which he now has a string of) said it was gratifying to receive one for simply doing something he loved to do.

"My work and relaxation are the same things - I like fulfilling my dreams," he said, adding that his philosophy was effectively that New Zealand wines and the arts could foot it with the world's best, and that all he had ever done was work to put that belief into practice.

His CMNZ award is in recognition of his leadership in the New Zealand wine industry and his contribution to the arts - namely the establishment of the New Zealand Poet Laureate Award in 1996 and the restoration and ongoing success of the Hawke's Bay Opera House.

Mr Buck led the $13.5 million fundraising campaign for the restoration of the opera house , and is currently chairman of its board of directors.

His work in the field of wine (since establishing Te Mata Estate in 1974) has been extensive.

He has represented the New Zealand wine industry at international trade negotiations and aided in securing the market success of Kiwi wines overseas.

He helped found Hawke's Bay Winegrowers and was chairman from 1982 to 1984, and established the Hawke's Bay Charity Wine Auction which through the years has raised more than $2 million for Cranford Hospice.

Mr Buck's remarkable and devoted contributions to the wine industry, arts and the general community paint him as a man making a difference - something borne out by his being awarded an OBE for services to the wine industry in 1996 and a New Zealand Commemoration Medal in 1990.

He was inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame in 2012.

He is passionate about what he does, and the region he loves.

"Hawke's Bay can do it - we have all the attributes," he said, adding he was proud his Te Mata Estate was completely locally owned.

"We are local boys who can take on the world."

He said wine and the arts simply came naturally to him.

"They interest me so I simply go out and do something about it."

Now having turned 70, Mr Buck said he had no plans to slow down.

"This is not an award for retirement," he laughed.

"I've got some big things coming up for 2013."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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