Chips off the old blocks, sons of guns, followers in their fathers' footsteps – we celebrate Father's Day by talking to five father-son pairs with a lot in common.
Michael Horton: Former managing director Wilson & Horton. Matthew Horton: Owner Horton Media Ltd.
"I think he did realise there was a family connection in printing and publishing at a young age," says Michael Horton of his son Matthew. Indeed, as far as young Matthew was concerned, there was only one career path - to follow his forebears into the Wilson & Horton publishing powerhouse, proprietors of the New Zealand Herald. The family had been at the heart of Auckland media for more than 100 years.
"I had no desire to do anything other than be immersed in the production of a daily newspaper," says Matthew. "I remember later in my youth going into the press room and meeting old printers who said they remembered me being brought in there at midnight in my nappies."
Not that anything could be taken for granted. "Matthew saw enough of me in his youth to realise you have to work hard to get a result," says his father. "Children nowadays should do what they have a desire to do. To try to dictate 'you must do this' will go down like a lead balloon."
Nevertheless, the dynastic groundwork was laid early on says Matthew: "On speech day at school, we would pick a topic, and I would pick the Herald's history - wouldn't you?"
When his son was young, Michael set up a trust and, recalls Matthew, "put a small number of shares into it, to give the children a stake in the company. But my father said: 'You won't get anywhere unless you're good – in this company or anywhere else.' It never occurred to me that I would want to do anything else. So I applied myself and managed to rise through the ranks on my own merits as a journalist and really enjoyed it."
In the mid-90s, however, Wilson & Horton came under assault by corporate raider Ron Brierley. After much manoeuvring, the company passed out of the family's stewardship. Matthew's heritage was no longer there to be had.
"Initially it was very disappointing," says Matthew, who went on to found his own successful business. "Looking back, you would say it was a stroke of luck, but at the time it was disappointing. I had spent all my working life - whatever it was by then - at newspapers preparing myself for a role, and then to have it taken away was difficult to adjust to."
David McPhail: TV satirist and comedian, actor, writer, McPhail and Gadsby. Letter to Blanchy. Matt McPhail: Producer and director for TV and film, The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, The Jaquie Brown Diaries
Matt began following in his father's footsteps at school. At Christchurch Boys' High, old boy David's reputation loomed large and Matt experienced the notoriety that came with being a famous son: "Ahh … McPhail". Father and son agree Matt managed to live down to his teachers' low expectations. The upside of his illustrious paternity was early exposure via David to the allure of TV. "There was a fair bit of hanging around McPhail & Gadsby sets," says Matt, "and at 15, I did work experience on Letter to Blanchy." When it came to his career choice "there was an air of inevitability about it".
David had no reservations about Matt following him down such a precarious career path: "I don't know where humour comes from, but it was clear early on that he was a boy who could be funny."
But he also took his job seriously, keen, like any youngster starting out, for parental approval from the get-go.
"He was working on a soap in Auckland, says David, and rang me one afternoon, saying: 'Are you watching the show tonight?' 'I don't normally,' I said. 'Do tonight and watch the scene in the bedroom.' I followed instructions and it was a scene with two people in a bedroom and nothing happened and they left. The phone rang and he said, 'What did you think?' 'It was okay, I guess.' 'What did you think of the lighting out the window?' 'It was most impressive.' 'I did that. That was all me.' I thought 'Okay –we're into it now.' "
Years later, when Matt thought David might be right for a part in the superhero comedy The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, which he was producing and directing, he not only made his father audition, he got one of the production team to make the call. No one would be able to say there was nepotism involved in the casting of the Green Termite.
David got the part, and turned down a role in Hamlet to tog up as the "elderly superhero".
"Lots of times he has been my go-to for everything career-wise," says Matt. "He is the person I will talk to first about where I'm heading, or what I'm changing or thinking of doing."
David, however, downplays his influence. "He very much did his own thing. He was very independent. We have tended to swap ideas, but as time went on, my ideas became less and less useful or swappable and he began to make the career he has. And I am particularly proud of him."
Larry Page: Producer and manager, The Kinks, The Troggs and many others. Ashley Page: Manager, Joel Little, Jawsh 685, Robinson.
"I never saw Ashley getting into management," says his father, Larry. "I got him a holiday job with friends of mine in a record company warehouse because he would actually learn about life as well. Then they phoned me up and said, 'He's too bright for the warehouse. We will put him in marketing.' He created his own ladder."
"I was not going into music," says Ashley. "The thing about my dad is that he is not the sort of person who lends you money. He earnt it, and we had to, too. But he helped me get that job that was literally among pallets of videos and CDs, and I worked my way up from there. It was only when I moved to New Zealand from the UK that I moved out of the shadow of being Larry's son - that's how I was always introduced."
Ashley did learn a lot from Larry, but they were lessons about business in general, not just the music business.
"When I started, I reached out to Dad who had Page One Records. He refused to let me take the name, so I started Page1 Management, not as a spite name, but it was available. I said, 'Do you want to go 50-50?' and he said, "I'll offer you $300 for 50 per cent of the company. So I learnt again."
But Ashley also says he absorbed a crucial rule about artist management by watching his dad. Despite all the changes in the industry, "the basic relationships never change between a manager and his artist and a manager and the record company and what you have to be to both of them. It's an industry built on emotion."
Larry says it's a lesson his son has learnt well: "The great thing about Ashley that I admire is his relationships. He gets out there and he meets people – that is what it's all about. And it's great that so many people he deals with now in America are sons of people I was dealing with."
Recently, Larry has been portrayed on the West End stage in the Kinks bio-musical Sunny Afternoon. He has avoided seeing it, but his son went. "It was very surreal," says Ashley. "It's all-singing all-dancing Larry, and Larry does sing, but he certainly doesn't dance. I'm incredibly proud of my father. I will never not be walking in his shadow until I have a character on the West End stage based on me."
Sir Pita Sharples: Former minister of Māori affairs, driving force behind the revival of te reo Māori, establishment of kura kaupapa and much more. Paora Sharples: Auckland University lecturer and kaihautu tikanga for Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga, the Māori Centre of Research excellence
"I exposed them to everything I did, every step of the way," says Sir Pita Sharples describing how he has passed on his legacy to sons Kepa and Paora and daughter Te Rangimarie. "They would have seen some courage and trusted that what I was doing was right, so they adopted it."
It's a view Paora confirms: "I've learnt from the way he acts and how he does things. Whether you are a minister or the chief of a tribe or Joe Bloggs down the road, he has the ability to connect with everyone at their level. I emulated that. I didn't have any formal one-on-one training from him. I was just part of a group that trudged along and became part of the activities he developed."
Among those activities was kapa haka, one of Sir Pita's greatest passions. All three children have been involved to a high level. "My oldest son, then Paora, then my daughter – all have been in my kapa haka groups for a year or two or three, and Paora has been a leader. He has done similar things to me, but in his own way. He went to Te Aute College like I did and he was second in his class right through. I was too. We both played rugby there."
Paora is at pains to point out that "while Dad was out there doing the business, Mum was keeping the home fires burning – otherwise he wouldn't have been able to do all the stuff. And my older brother was my role model at school when I was growing up."
Paora says he feels proud but not overshadowed by Pita's mana and fame: "It's always been the case. I can't remember when it wasn't. In my earliest years he was already in that zone – regionally and nationally. It was normal to us."
"I'm very, very proud of him," says Pita of his son. "For someone to come out from under my heavy umbrella and strike out on his own is marvellous, quite incredible."
"I've been trying to look in Maori history for who would be similar to my dad," says Paora, "and the only one I could think of was Apirana Ngata. He is at that level."
Gary Wallace: REINZ Real Estate Salesperson of the Year (with wife Vicki). Ben Wallace: No. 1 Bayleys Leasing Salesperson Nationwide – 2017-2020
Ben Wallace's parents are the glamour couple of New Zealand real estate, with numerous sales records and industry awards to their names. It was not a feat Ben ever planned to emulate, although he did follow in his father's footsteps in another area, before turning his talents to property.
"I grew up playing golf and was in the New Zealand golf team for years," says Ben. "I had every intention of being a pro golfer. But it got to the point where I thought I'd given it 110 per cent and was getting a bit over the travel and had some shoulder injuries and just didn't feel like I was going to be good enough to get to the level I wanted to. So I hit the reset button."
His dad had done something similar.
"I never made it to Ben's level," says Gary. "I won a few club championships and did play for Auckland and win an Auckland championship as a 21-year-old. Golf was a big part of my life growing up. At a young age – maybe 16 – I played in the New Zealand amateur championship and got through to the second or third round. I went to Australia and had a great year playing as an amateur. Then I came home and thought it was just not for me as a career."
Post-gold, Ben moved to France for a "re-set" year before returning to New Zealand with no idea what he was going to do.
"Because Mum and Dad were both selling real estate, the opportunity came up to meet the guys at Bayleys in the commercial team." Commercial real estate is the Monday to Friday end of the business, without those pesky open homes on weekends, meaning Ben could still play some sport.
But in fact, father (and mother) and son share a lack of enthusiasm for maintaining a work-life balance. They don't really draw a line between one and the other, and Ben understands that technology means you are always on call, whether at a property or on the golf course.
"The main thing I have learnt from Dad is that it's not really a job," says Ben. "He lives and breathes real estate. To have success in anything, it has to become part of your life."