NZ's oldest first-time author, Sir Ja' />

Sir Jack Harris, who ran one of the country's biggest import/export businesses, has died at the age of 103.

NZ's oldest first-time author, Sir Jack published his "Memoirs of a Century" two years ago, spanning 100 years since his grandfather set up a business in New Zealand during the goldrush era.

After celebrating his 103rd birthday on July 23, he commented: "I am in my 104th year, have lived a long time and am really quite well - not bad really for an old chap. Must be in the blood."

He died at a rest home in Whitby, near Porirua, on Wednesday.

Born in London in 1906 and educated at Cambridge, Sir Jack Wolfred Ashford Harris inherited his baronetcy from his father, Liberal MP Sir Percy Harris, in 1952.

Moving to New Zealand to save the family business during the depression, he met his wife-to-be Patricia Clapin Penman Harris , a liberal feminist, atheist, columnist and writer, on a ship to Australia.

Sir Jack's first impression of Wellington was unfavourable.

"It was very small, rundown. I thought I had come to the end of the world.

But Sir Jack made a huge impact as a pioneering manufacturer and civic leader in New Zealand, becoming chief executive of Bing Harris and Co import/exporters.

Tragedy struck in 1996 when his beloved Waikanae homestead Te Rama went up in flames, along with hundreds of precious artworks and antiques.

Sir Jack and his wife, who died six years ago, had a daughter and two sons.

A service for Sir Jack will be held at Waikanae Funeral Home on Thursday.