He is the face behind a company that has been instrumental in developing residential subdivisions in The Lakes, Bethlehem and Pāpāmoa.

He is also one of the driving forces behind Tauranga's new university campus and helped to create the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance in Mount Maunganui.

Now, Sir Paul Adams has been made a knight in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to philanthropy and the community.

It is not the first time he has been recognised in the Queen's Honours List after being awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for business and philanthropy in 2015.

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The Tauranga philanthropist and businessman found his Queen's birthday honour waiting for him in the letterbox and said he was humbled by the knighthood.

"But to me, it is more about doing your bit to help the community and others in need of support who are not in a position to help themselves," Sir Paul said.

"I believe that anyone who has been successful in business within a community has a corporate and social responsibility to support and give back to the community."

As a council member of the University of Waikato, Sir Paul was directly involved in bringing the new campus to Tauranga's CBD and donated money for the development of the Adams Centre for High Performance in Mount Maunganui.

The 70-year-old is also the executive chairman of one of the Bay of Plenty's largest land developers, Carrus Corporation, which has developed thousands of sections in Tauranga.

But his career highlight has been getting involved in the not-for-profit sector.

"My son, Scott Adams, now runs our development company and Carrus extremely well, completing my succession planning and allowing me to be involved in the community and not-for-profit sector, which fulfils my social conscience," he said.

As chairman of Accessible Properties, Sir Paul has helped to develop social housing in Tauranga, including negotiating to buy more than 1000 Housing New Zealand homes for the city.

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"Seeing not-for-profit organisations that I have been involved with prosper and grow has given me a real sense of achievement in helping others less able to achieve these results," he said.

Sir Paul and his wife Cheryl are known for their philanthropic support to many sporting organisations including Bay of Plenty Rugby, Tauranga Golf Club and the Tauranga Rowing Club.

Other beneficiaries include the Tauranga Arts Festival, Jazz Festival, Tarnished Frocks and Divas, Wellington Arts Festival and Porirua City Events.

Tauranga developer and philanthropist Paul Adams has been made a knight in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga developer and philanthropist Paul Adams has been made a knight in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours. Photo / George Novak

Sir Paul grew up in a state house in the Hutt Valley in the 1950s and early 1960s and was brought up by his mother after his parents split when he was 11.

"There were few support services or allowances for solo mothers in the 50s and 60s so my mother needed to work full-time to support us," he said.

"There was generally enough food to put on the table, but there were certainly few extras."

Sir Paul left Naenae College at the end of sixth form. Studying full-time at university was at first out of the question.

Luckily, he got a job as an engineering cadet with the Wellington Harbour Board which helped fund his tertiary education.

He soon qualified as a civil engineer, as well as gaining qualifications in business management and dispute resolution.

After working in construction and consultancy for 10 years, he invested in some kiwifruit orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

But after discovering the orchards he had invested in were being mismanaged, a then 32-year-old spied a business opportunity and moved with his wife and two young children to Tauranga.

There, he bought land and began promoting syndicated kiwifruit orchards that would be managed by his company Bay Horticultural Services.

During the next 10 years, he owned and managed 45 orchards and 10 packhouses and cool stores, employing about 200 people.

He said none of what he has done could have been achieved without the full backing of his family.

"My family has been my greatest supporter, allowing me to focus on business matters, often at the expense of family time. I have so much to thank all of them for."

Sir Paul Adams' achievements:

•Patron of IHC Bay of Plenty and Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust
•Life member of Waipuna Hospice
•Chairman of Accessible Properties
•Director of Kordia, a state-owned telecommunications company
•Council member of the University of Waikato
•Donated to the university for the development of the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance
•Board member of the Correspondence School Te Kura for four years
•Founding director of Priority One
•Recognised in the Westpac Business Awards in 2013 for business leadership and in 2018 for corporate sponsorship