Sir Richard Carter, a former Carter Holt Harvey executive chairman and third-generation member of the Kiwi timber dynasty, has died aged 75.

He was the great-grandson of Francis Carter, who in the late 1800s founded a lumber business that went on to become part of the New Zealand forestry giant at the end of the 20th century.

Rick Mannering, Carter's son-in-law, said the "head of the family company" died from complications following a stroke.

"We're saddened by his loss and he will be sadly missed by his wife [June] and his daughter Shirley-Ann," said Mannering.

Carter was born in Palmerston North and graduated from the University of Auckland in 1958 with a degree in accountancy.

In 1971 forestry and wood products firm Carter Consolidated merged with sawmill company Holt to form Carter Holt Holdings.

Under Carter's leadership that business went on to merge with Alex Harvey Industries in 1985 and one of New Zealand's biggest businesses, Carter Holt Harvey, was born.

Sir Wilson Whineray, a former chairman of the forestry giant and ex-All Blacks captain, said Carter had a great ability to think ahead and make the right decisions.

"His father did much of the work to turn Carter Holt into a major New Zealand company and Richard and [his brother] Kenneth followed on," he said.

John Maasland, another former Carter Holt Harvey chairman who joined the company in the mid-1990s, described Carter as a great entrepreneur who took risks that paid off.

One of those gambles, he said, was the acquisition of a COpec, a Chilean fisheries and forestry firm that was eventually sold in 1999 for $2.5 billion, providing the New Zealand company with a hefty profit.

Graeme Hart's Rank Group eventually bought Carter Holt Harvey in 2006 for $3.3 billion.

"[Carter] was a man of great wisdom and was certainly a very hard worker," Maasland said.

"He was a delightful, charming man. He was quiet and self-effacing but with a wicked sense of humour."

He said Carter had contributed to a number of New Zealand firms through various chairmanships, including a stint with Ports of Auckland.

"He was always a very strong chairman of all the operations he was with," said Maasland.

"Richard was a great supporter of polo and we used to see him often at the Clevedon polo grounds."

One of the last times Carter spoke to the Business Herald was in 2007.

Referring to the 1987 stockmarket crash, he said: "I was not all that much surprised, probably being one of those people who thought at the time that the hype around the sharemarket was vastly overdone."

Carter's funeral will be held on Thursday afternoon at Waytemore Farm in Paparimu, south of Auckland.

- Additional reporting: NZPA