Contributor's to amphibious vehicles, precision electromagnets, fashion design and a good night's sleep make up the list of nine New Zealand entrepreneurs announced as inductees into this year's Business Hall of Fame.

The list includes five living laureates (Bill Buckley, Dame Trelise Cooper, Alan Gibbs and Graeme & Craig Turner) and four posthumous laureates (James Dilworth, Elspeth Kennedy, Tony Nightingale and Sir Russell Matthews).

Head of the selection panel, and NZBHF laureate, Sir Eion Edgar acknowledged the significance the inductees have made to business in New Zealand.

"The contribution that these individuals have made to NZ is significant. It is vital that we recognise our past entrepreneurs and record their stories."


"Their induction is a prestigious acknowledgement for their contributions to the social and economic development of New Zealand through tales of enterprise, hard work and philanthropy."

Bill Buckley is the founder of Buckley Systems Limited (BSL). BSL is the world's leading supplier of precision electromagnets used in the manufacture of more than 90 per cent of the world's silicon chips. BSL's range of products are also used in medical photon therapy – systems that will revolutionise cancer treatments of the future.

Dame Trelise Cooper established her iconic fashion design business in the early 1980s and opened her first boutique in 1985. The Trelise Cooper brand is recognised by international magazines such as Vogue and Marie Claire. Dame Trelise is also a generous patron and volunteer for a variety of causes.

Developing 11 different automobiles, and with more than 50 patents in his name, Alan Gibbs is one of New Zealand's most successful entrepreneurs and inventors. Gibbs also established the internationally acclaimed "Gibbs Farm" in Kaipara - the world's largest outdoor sculpture park.

Brothers Graeme and Craig are the third generation of Turners to run Sleepyhead - one of New Zealand's most trusted brands.

James Dilworth, born in Ireland in 1815, was a successful businessman, accumulating significant wealth through his various interests. James bequeathed the bulk of his estate to establish Dilworth School - the endowment which funds the scholarships for low-decile students has grown to a level of $550 million.

Elspeth Kennedy lead a ground-breaking career, becoming the first woman to become a member of the New Zealand stock exchange and the first to run her own broking business. Kennedy then dedicated her life to her involvement in hospice, including more than 15 years as the chairwoman of the Nelson Tasman Hospice Trust from 1998 to 2014.

Tony Nightingale was an innovator, taking the Resene company multinational. Resene Paints has built a reputation as New Zealand's colour leader and continues to develop new technologies today under the leadership of Tony's son Nick Nightingale.


Sir Russell Matthews established the Russell Matthews & Company – the firm becoming New Zealand's largest roading contractor. The company has sealed more than 3000 kilometres of road from Whangarei to Invercargill. Matthews became a knight bachelor in 1982 for services to horticulture and the community.

Living laureates:
• Bill Buckley, CNZM
• Dame Trelise Cooper, DNZM
• Alan Gibbs
• Graeme & Craig Turner

Posthumous laureates:
• James Dilworth (1815-1894)
• Elspeth Kennedy, QSO, MBE (1931-2017)
• Tony Nightingale (1939-2003)
• Sir Russell Matthews, OBE (1896-1987)

Celebrate the 2018 Laureates as they are admitted to the Hall at the annual black-tie gala dinner held at the Cordis, Auckland on Friday July 27. Tickets available online at, email or call 09 375 3940​