Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

New Year Honours: Sir Owen Glenn

Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to philanthropy.

Sir Owen Glenn - doing his bit. Photo / Dean Purcell
Sir Owen Glenn - doing his bit. Photo / Dean Purcell

For a boy who grew up in Mt Roskill, Owen Glenn says he must be doing okay if the Queen wants to make him a knight.

The award comes four years after the 72-year-old billionaire was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and the community, something he had thought was the "pinnacle honour".

But the knighthood is a "great, great honour", he said.

"Mum and Dad have passed on but they would have been thrilled."

Sir Owen grew up in India before moving to Auckland's Mt Roskill at age 11.

During his long business career, he has, through the Glenn Family Foundation, donated to causes and made it easier for children to take part in sports as a way of encouraging them to succeed in life.

"I'm doing my bit here and there. This will give me a greater impetus.

"Acknowledgment is everything because people say, 'Wow, you know if his country acknowledged him and the Queen acknowledged him then he must be all right, really all right."'

This year he started a project to combat domestic violence and child abuse in New Zealand, with an $8 million trial to be launched in Otara, South Auckland.

He has earmarked a further $80 million for an inquiry into how to reduce the problems after the Government turned down his request for a royal commission.

"It's a stigma, it's an absolute tragedy, it's a national shame. So I thought, well, these are people who can't defend themselves."

Sir Owen has also contributed to the Aotearoa New Zealand Maori Business Leader of the Year awards, and gave the University of Auckland funding for the development of a business school, which was named after him.

He established the Sir Howard Morrison Vocal Scholarship, which is administered by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, and has provided a funding package to develop an aquatic centre at the Millennium Institute on Auckland's North Shore.

Last year, Sir Owen donated $1 million to New Zealand Hockey and gave further funding for the development of youth hockey through the Owen G. Glenn Future Black Sticks Programme.

Soon he will donate hundreds of boots to young league players.

"I reckon they'll wear them to bed. I'm concerned in the youth and development and giving the kids the opportunity [to play sport], succeed and enjoy life."


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