Farmer and innovator. Died aged 50.



Dunedin businessman Howard Paterson, whose wealth has been estimated at $120 million, made his fortune through a mixture of perception and boundless enthusiasm.



Colleagues credit him with a knack of latching on to new ideas before others realised there was an opportunity.



Mr Paterson focused on four main areas of business: property development, large scale corporate farming, tourism investment in New Zealand, Fiji and the United States and biotechnology.

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One of the best-known names in South Island business, he was also regarded as the wealthiest.



Howard Paterson was found dead in his hotel in Fiji this week. He had failed to turn up to a business meeting and was discovered dead in his room.



Close friend and business colleague Alistair Broad said the death had affected everyone with whom Mr Paterson had been involved. Dunedin City councillors observed a minute's silence during their council meeting this week.



Mayor Sukhi Turner said Mr Paterson's death was a great loss for the South Island.



"Mr Paterson showed considerable loyalty in investing in his own backyard."



Some of the higher-profile dairy companies he was involved with included A2 Corporation, producing A2 milk with its claimed benefits, and companies such as Botry-Zen, Pharma Zen and Blis Technologies.



Mr Paterson was involved in a tannery and slink skin processing operations. He was also involved in Mainland Poultry, the largest poultry farm in the country near Christchurch and New Zealand Deer Farms, believed to be the world's largest deer farming group. There was also HireQuip, a publicly listed investment and development company.



Recent investments included three hotels in Mackenzie Country, Treble Cone Skifield, and Waitaki Valley Estate.



Mr Broad said many of the activities with which Mr Paterson was associated had grown and were no longer under his day-to-day administration.



"What we have lost is the process we had of new ideas coming on to the start of the conveyor belt. I have no concerns about the companies already on that conveyor belt.



"Howard was very good at identifying ideas and picking the people to run with them. Those people will carry on," he said.



Greenslades Sharebrokers chairwoman Noeline Munro said Mr Paterson was a true enthusiast in everything he did and was always ahead of his time, through his extensive reading and commitment to investment.



"The business community has lost a valuable member. Apart from his private investments, he raised significant capital by bringing many biotech, agriculture and property investments through to full or partial listing on the NZX [stock exchange].



"He was known as a wealthy man but he earned his wealth and didn't begrudge sharing his knowledge and skill with so many others - the wealthy and not so wealthy."



Educated at Otago Boys High School, he started making money while an arts student at Otago University.



He is said to have survived the 1987 stock market crash having earlier sold his Christchurch commercial property interests to Chase Corporation. He gained his first farm near Gore the following year and through various ventures, trusts and investment built up his rural interests.



Mr Paterson had been married twice. He is survived by his wife and three sons. He has two brothers and a sister.



Mr Broad, Peter Dodds and David Smallbone, the three directors of Otago Trust, Mr Paterson's investment vehicle, were working to provide support for the family, Mr Broad said.



Mr Paterson's funeral will be in Dunedin on Monday.



- NZPA, STAFF REPORTER