Wendy Pye
Publisher & Entrepreneur

The first woman inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame

Dame Wendy Pye is a tireless champion of children's literacy - both in New Zealand and around the world.

Brimming with energy, wit and still sporting the Western Australian twang of her youth, Pye has been a whirlwind in New Zealand publishing for more than 30 years.

The now 75-year-old started Sunshine Books in 1985 after meeting a group of adolescent boys who couldn't read.

Since then Wendy Pye Publishing has amassed a catalogue containing thousands of titles and has sold hundreds of millions of books.


The enterprise has been hugely profitable - Pye was this year estimated to be worth $115 million, according to the National Business Review.

Pye, who lives in Auckland, sees boosting literacy as more than just a way to make money.
She previously told the Herald it was a sort of panacea for poverty.

"The only way to break the cycle of poverty is to create children who can read. If everyone read, they could at least do something and apply for jobs and be more positive in life and have more self-esteem.''

"This does make a difference ... we know that if a child has not learned those [literacy] skills by the age of 10, we've almost lost them. Our prisons are full of people who can't read.''

She became Dame Wendy in 2012 for services to business and education and in 2016 was named by Forbes magazine as one of Asia's top 50 "power businesswomen".

The first woman to be inducted into the Business Hall of Fame, Pye launched a Southeast Asia programme in 2016 selling affordable tablet computers pre-loaded with English-teaching software to families in areas with no internet connections.

"We've got the ability [with this idea] to teach thousands and thousands of girls who are in the home and don't go to school," she told the Herald in 2016.

"It's going to revolutionise the teaching of English for all of those people... imagine what you could do in Africa, imagine what you could do in India!"