Businessman and philanthropist a long-term investor who buys when things are tough

Peter Masfen

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and philanthropy.


One of New Zealand's most shrewd businessmen, Peter Masfen, reckons a trick is to always have reserves up your sleeve and invest when no one else wants to.

"I think my best investments have been at counter-cyclical times ... that's the benefit of always having capacity to pick up those opportunities," says Masfen, who today has been appointed a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and philanthropy.

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"I'm a long-term investor, I don't trade things. I invest for the long term and I think it's fair to say that the best investments very often are made when things are tough and probably when no one else wants them, those tend to have the ability to show the best return if you stick with them long enough and are able to apply good business direction and principles to them," he says.

The former top-level rower, who represented New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and the world championships in 1966, still has an active role in his family's business interests, which are estimated to be worth more than $400 million.

The family's Masfen Securities appears on many listed company registers and takes big stakes in NZX-listed businesses.

Their property investments include the 12,000ha Mt Linton Station in Southland as well as many commercial buildings spread throughout Auckland including in Newmarket, Parnell and Mission Bay.

The 74-year-old is perhaps best known for building up Montana Wines, which became New Zealand's largest wine producer, exporter and vineyard owner during his three decades on its board.

It also became a takeover target and in 2001 was bought by Allied Domecq, now part of French giant Pernod Ricard. The buyout was contested and Masfen says achieving an equal price for shareholders during it was one of the highlights of his career. The former Montana chairman wasn't interested in wine before he got involved with the business and says he isn't a "wine connoisseur".

You learn a lot about team playing and team membership and quite a few of my interests have been in partnerships of various forms.

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One of the lesson's from his long career is to make your own judgments and not let yourself be swayed by others.

Despite that, he regards himself as more of a team player in business than a man-alone. "I think I learned about that through the rowing because most of my rowing was in crews," he says.

You learn a lot about team playing and team membership and quite a few of my interests have been in partnerships of various forms," says Masfen, who was a partner in an accounting firm Porter Wigglesworth and Grayburn for 22 years.

Rowing, too, taught Masfen the discipline that served him well through his life.

Although he helped to fund a men's and women's eight for this year's world rowing championships and the 2016 Olympic Games, he says he won't be heading over to Rio for the event.

A member of the Apec Business Advisory Council from 2001 to 2005, Masfen is also a trustee of the Woolf Fisher Trust, which awards scholarships and fellowships for educational excellence.

A King's College old boy, Masfen is one of its trustees and has also been involved with King's School for almost 40 years.